Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today that he and his wife will donate $1 million to the Illinois Fairground Foundation to go towards restoring the state fair coliseum.
Rauner, reflecting on his his roots in the agriculture community, said his desire is to restore the coliseum in the same way his wife led the effort in restoring the Governor's Mansion.
The large donation comes along with naming rights, which the governor will hand off to students. He says details on the contest are forthcoming.
John Slayton, chairman of Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, says that "hopefully this is the kickstart we need to get things going" in a total refurbishment of the fairgrounds. So far donations are at about $1.1 million dollars, including the governor's announced gift.
When asked what the foundation would do with the windfall, he says it "gives us movement towards air conditioning and heating" and a "like-new coliseum."
Next steps include a "lot of new roofs" around the fairgrounds, he says, and the eventual demolition of a now-condemned dormitory which will cost approximately $800 thousand.