Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) plans to enhance the patron experience for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the Longines Kentucky Oaks and other on-track events through the creation of the Grandstand Terrace, a venue that will offer nearly 2,400 new seats on the second and third floors and significantly expand and update restrooms, wagering windows and food and beverage offerings available to Grandstand patrons. The Grandstand Terrace project also features the addition of the Rooftop Garden, a hospitality lounge area for VIP guests.
The Grandstand Terrace Project was approved by the Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) Board of Directors on Monday, July 29. The venue and its amenities will be available for the 140th Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 2, 2014 and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
The new seating is part of a $14.5 million renovation which includes 51,000 square feet of completely new space located behind and adjacent to the track's current Grandstand seats that overlook the Kentucky Derby starting gate at the head of the homestretch. The number of restrooms, wagering windows and food and beverage stations will be significantly increased in that area of the Grandstand. An additional 14,000 square feet in the Grandstand is being renovated as part of this project.
Churchill Downs has invested more than $150 million in renovations and improvements to its historic facility since late 2001, but there have been no major improvement projects in that area of the Grandstand during that period.
The improved facilities and amenities will be easily accessible to patrons in more than 20,000 seats – approximately 37 percent of the track's reserved seating – on Derby and Oaks Days.
“The Grandstand Terrace and Rooftop Garden offer a rare opportunity to create new seating for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, but it's even more exciting because the new and updated amenities will significantly improve the experience for a large percentage of fans that join us in the Grandstand for this great sports and entertainment spectacle,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “The new and renovated concessions, restrooms and wagering locations will be conveniently accessible for all of our Grandstand patrons. The result will be improved service and a more enjoyable experience during the premier weekend in American racing.
“We surveyed our Grandstand patrons during the 2013 Kentucky Derby and Oaks and the improvement and expansion of concessions, wagering and restroom facilities were at the top of their list of recommendations. Along with enhancing our Kentucky Derby and Oaks experience, we believe the unique Grandstand Terrace and Rooftop Garden will be popular venues for family celebrations and other social gatherings and present another entertainment option at our historic track.”
The new seats created by the project will lift Churchill Downs' overall seating capacity to 55,638 permanent seats for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. The addition to Grandstand seating will be the first since the introduction of the Jockey Club Suites in three new floors of Grandstand space that opened in September, 2003. The addition of new seating is the first on the Grandstand's second and third floors since 1953.
The Grandstand Terrace will include six new reserved seating sections on the second and third floors of the Grandstand and approximately 24,000 square feet of mostly covered space on the second floor that will offer food and beverage stations, wagering positions and restroom access. The new sections 226, 227 and 228 on the second floor will feature traditional bleacher seating, while third-floor sections 326, 327 and 328 will offer stadium-style, flip-up seats similar to seating offered for the Derby and Oaks in Churchill Downs' Section 110 on the track's first turn. In addition to the Grandstand Terrace, the Rooftop Garden will add 13,000 square feet that will feature table seating and a VIP section for Derby and Oaks.
Nine new restrooms – which include 350 new fixtures – are part of the Grandstand Terrace project, and many other restrooms are being completely updated.
The new venue also includes a 10,000-square-foot food and beverage plaza located near the Rooftop Garden and new reserved seating.
Most of the new seats in the Grandstand Terrace will be available for purchase during Churchill Downs' online sale of tickets to the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Oaks in November. Those who wish to participate in that sale must register online at www.KentuckyDerby.com by Thursday, Oct. 31.
Pricing for seating in the new Churchill Downs venue is being finalized.
Nearly 19,000 tickets for the 2013 Kentucky Derby and Oaks – approximately 34 percent of the track's available seating inventory – were purchased through Churchill Downs' online box office.
Registrants for this year's sale will be notified via e-mail prior to the November sale with details of the 2014 Derby and Oaks ticket offering.
One portion of the existing Grandstand set to be razed to make way for the new Grandstand Terrace will be preserved and integrated into the Grandstand terrace. A 50' x 100' section of rooftop in the rear of the Grandstand, which served as the roof of the track's paddock in the early part of the 20th century, will serve as the roof that covers the largest portion of the Grandstand Terrace. It's unclear exactly when that structure was built, but horses were saddled in that paddock prior to the building of a new paddock near the Clubhouse in 1924. The approximately century-old roof and frame will be elevated to cover approximately 5,500 square feet of the second-floor Grandstand Terrace.
Demolition of portions of the Grandstand that will be cleared to make way for the new structure is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Aug. 1.
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