FALCON HEIGHTS (AP) -- A charitable foundation has been created to put the grand back in the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
Officials say they've struggled for years to find money to update their vast collection of aging buildings, many of them built during the Depression. Now, a charitable foundation has been created to raise millions of dollars to give the fairgrounds a facelift.
The grandstand, built in 1909, is the top priority.
"Within five years, if we don't raise the money for it, the structure will be knocked down," said Tom Norgel, the chief fundraiser for the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, which was created in June.
The grandstand isn't "in unsafe condition, but it's in dire need of upgrading," Norgel said.
Just bringing the grandstand up to building code could take about $5 million, he said. A more ambitious renovation could cost as much as $44 million.
The grandstand is already showing its age. Concrete is cracked or crumbling. Code violations are everywhere. Last week, someone touched an old electrical box and hornets came out, Norgel said.
The new plan calls for tearing down the bleachers, building new stairways and elevators and sandblasting the brick exterior to its previous glory.
The new plan also has ruffled some feathers by eliminating the racetrack, used one day a year for stock-car races.
"People don't like change," Norgel sighed. "There's a very devoted, passionate racing crowd."
Officials also plan to upgrade the Coliseum, animal barns and landscaping.
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