Before releasing its earnings later today, Churchill Downs announced plans to invest $32 million to upgrade the transportation infrastructure around the racetrack.
Plans call for a larger, “highly efficient” bus depot, a pedestrian plaza, enlarged paddock entrance, outdoor LED lighting and a perimeter fence. The paddock entrance will replace the entrances Gate 1 and 17, according to a news release.
“Better facilities equates to better experiences,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs, said in the release. “Parking, shuttles and traffic congestion have been a recurring theme in post-Oaks and Derby feedback surveys. While we are limited in the amount of vehicles we can park onsite at Churchill Downs, this significant investment will allow us to expand our mass transit operation during Derby Week and allow our guests to get into and out of the racetrack quicker and safer.”
More than 170,000 people attend the Kentucky Derby each year.
Work already has begun on areas adjacent to Central Avenue and will wrap up before the start of the 2018 Spring Meet. Work near Longfield Avenue will start after next year’s Kentucky Derby and conclude before the Breeder’s Cup returns to Louisville in November 2018.
The Breeder’s Cup will have an estimated $47 million economic impact, according to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Churchill Downs is working with Louisville Metro Police Department and traffic engineers to refine the plan in the coming months. People visiting the track during this year’s Fall Meet and the 2018 Spring and September Meets should follow signs, electronic message boards and personnel to find parking. They can also visit the Churchill Downs website for recommended routes.
Ticketholders without parking permits are encouraged to park near Gate 10, in the neighborhood surrounding the racetrack or at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Churchill Downs has had a few big announcements this year. The company said in June that it planned to build a $60 million, 85,000-square-foot electronic gambling facility near the airport, and in September, Churchill Downs said that it would partner with Keeneland to open and operate two Thoroughbred racetracks and gambling parlors in Kentucky.