Churchill Downs hospitality all set to charm


Churchill Downs renovation project Image: Churchill Downs

Horse racing complex Churchill Downs (US) recently announced three major multiyear capital investments to transform key areas at the home of the Kentucky Derby. These projects will ultimately provide new, unique and extraordinary guest experiences in the coming years. Plans include the debut of a new project each year over the next three years, beginning with the Homestretch Club for Kentucky Derby 2022 and culminating with a Paddock area redesign for the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2024.

The 1,65,000-capacity Churchill Downs Racetrack, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has been the home of The Kentucky Derby, the longest continually held annual sporting event in the United States since 1875. Located in Louisville (US), the Racetrack features a series of themed race days during Derby Week, including the Kentucky Oaks, and conducts Thoroughbred horse racing during three race meets in the Spring, September and the Fall.

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, almost always on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The competition is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of one and a quarter miles at Churchill Downs.

The ‘Churchill Downs’ stated that the Homestretch Club will renovate and update the grandstand area adjacent to the Twin Spires along the famed track’s homestretch. The project will convert what is currently outdoor bleacher seating next to the Winner’s Circle Suites and below the Jockey Club Suites into three unique seating options with all-inclusive amenities. This seating offers an ideal view of the starting gate, a superior vantage of the track’s Big Board and a bird’s eye view of the homestretch as the horses thunder to the finish line. Ticketed guests in the Homestretch Club will have access to 18,600 sq. ft. of new interior premium hospitality space in the first-floor concourse area that will be transformed into a newly reimagined, high-end air-conditioned club atmosphere to place a bet, enjoy the all-inclusive food and beverage offerings and other amenities. This premium hospitality space will be accentuated by a grand staircase and a 100 ft. feature bar making it an elegant and desirable option for special events at historic Churchill Downs.

The new all-inclusive ticket offerings for the Homestretch Club will include:

  • Thirty trackside lounges along the rail for up to 200 guests offering a “courtside seat” experience;
  • Sixty-six terraced dining tables for up to 440 guests creating covered outdoor dining;
  • Two thousand six hundred and ten stadium club seats providing a cushioned, comfortable and upgraded experience; and
  • Five private VIP hospitality lounges for up to 60 guests.

The ‘Churchill Downs’ further stated that in total, the project will provide for 3,250 all-inclusive seats, which is 1,950 fewer reserved seats than were previously in this area. The $45 million Homestretch Club project is scheduled for completion in time for the 148th Kentucky Derby scheduled for May 7th, 2022.

The Turn 1 Experience will introduce permanent all-inclusive stadium seats at Churchill Downs in a unique location with exclusive views of the Kentucky Derby walkover and the picturesque first turn framed by the Twin Spires. The project will upgrade and expand what are currently 3,400 temporary Oaks and Derby seats to 5,100 all-inclusive permanent stadium seats with significantly improved amenities to enhance the overall guest experience. The permanent construction will also add a climate-controlled hospitality venue below the new stadium seats that will serve as premium seating for up to 2,000 guests who will have access to an adjacent trackside reserved viewing terrace allowing them to view signature moments along the rail.

The Turn 1 Experience will include:

  • Five thousand one hundred covered stadium seats;
  • Fifty thousand sq. ft. climate-controlled hospitality venue that includes reserved dining room tables for up to 2,000 guests with an adjacent trackside viewing terrace; and
  • Two concourses to allow for better guest circulation and additional customer amenities for stadium seat-ticketed guests, creating a convenient place for socializing with outdoor racetrack view.

In total, the project will provide for 7,100 all-inclusive seats, which are 3,700 more reserved seats than were previously in this area. The $90 million Turn 1 Experience is scheduled for completion in time for the 149th Kentucky Derby in 2023.

The combination of these two capital projects will result in a net addition of 1,750 premium reserved seats.

The Paddock Area Redesign is in the early design stage and will transform the existing paddock area in a manner that will enhance the experience for nearly every guest who enters the gates of the historic racetrack. In addition to introducing new and innovative seating experiences, the redesign will reduce congestion by significantly improving the flow of guests through the paddock and plaza areas. This project is tentatively scheduled to debut for the 150th Kentucky Derby in 2024. More details will be shared in the coming months.

Commented Mike Anderson, President, Churchill Downs Racetrack, “We have so much to anticipate as we look toward the 150th Kentucky Derby in 2024. We’ve listened to our customers’ feedback over the years and the response to those demands can be seen in these upcoming capital projects. The design of each will blend 147 years of tradition with an updated atmosphere that celebrates our storied past and ushers in a spectacular future for Churchill Downs.”

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