Gaming company and horse racing giant Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced on Wednesday that the business will redevelop and transform the paddock at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. The $185 - $200 million project is set to debut in 2024.
The transformative paddock redevelopment project will commemorate the 150th edition of the legendary Kentucky Derby, to be held in May 2024. The redesign is the final phase of a previously-announced three-year capital investment plan for Churchill Downs Racetrack that is set to provide new and improved guest experiences for fans of the renowned horse race.
The project is set to 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,” a press release states. The current configuration blocks views of the Twin Spires from the entrance gate, and restricts circulation from the Clubhouse to the Grandstand.
The new design is set to enhance the visibility of the iconic Twin Spires structures, streamline guest circulation paths, update the audiovisual experience, “and create additional value for guests by updating existing ticket products and amenities.” CDI has now shared renderings of what the improved new areas will look like.
The “Paddock Club” features dining tables overlooking the Paddock horse stalls.
The new design includes 12,000 square feet of guest space compared to the existing 5,000 square feet, increasing the capacity inside the paddock from 1,000 to 2,400 people. Additionally, the redevelopment will add various club spaces that will provide “exclusive, intimate and behind-the-scenes equine-focused experiences unparalleled in all of sports and entertainment.”
Premium club seating options will include dining tables, rail boxes, custom chef’s tables, cocktail service, reserved racetrack viewing areas and access to private amenities, along with what CDI calls “unprecedented paddock views.”
In total, the project is expected to create 3,612 new premium reserved seats at various price and experience levels, along with 3,250 new standing room-only tickets. The paddock development will also update select existing ticket inventory, and improve paddock views for front-side guests with the addition of elevated viewing platforms.
“This is one of the most significant construction projects in the history of Churchill Downs Racetrack because it significantly impacts what we consider to be the heart of the property,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “We took great care to ensure this is designed in a way that would transform Churchill Downs while enhancing our ability to deliver on what our fans hope for and expect from us for generations to come.”
The redevelopment investment will follow the previously-unveiled Homestretch Club project, set to debut this year during the Kentucky Derby, May 6-7. The luxurious venue and premium dining space is located behind homestretch seating, and offers a full-service experience, “the perfect place to retreat and mingle between races.”
It will also follow the $89.2 million Turn 1 Experience that will open for the Kentucky Derby in 2023. This project is set to provide additional permanent stadium seating and a new track-level hospitality club replacing current temporary Oaks and Derby seating at the first turn, according to a presentation given to investors in March.
Construction on the Paddock Project will begin later this year after the 2022 Churchill Downs Spring Meet, which runs April 30-July 4, and is scheduled to accommodate the Racetrack’s live race dates with minimal disruption.