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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB News) -- The 21-day fall racing meet opens Sunday at Churchill Downs, while a number of renovations at the historic track continue.
These days there are more than just thoroughbreds at the track. Construction crews are working on four projects totaling nine million dollars.
But Downs management says fall racing fans will not be inconvenienced by the on-going construction. "That work will continue during the meet," says the vice president for communications for Churchill Downs, John Asher, "but it won't affect anything that happens during the meet, but fans will get to see this construction taking shape."
The largest project underway is a new seating area that will be styled after a southern mansion. It is being built in what used to be the sixth floor media center, which has spectacular views of both the track and the paddock.
It is so expensive that Downs management won't say exactly how much it will cost to watch the races from "The Mansion."
"It is at the high end of the Derby price experience," says Churchill Downs general manager Ryan Jordan, "because it is at the highest level of derby tickets."
A new media center is being constructed at ground level where the general offices used to be located. It will have room for 400 members of the working press.
Jordan says it will be state of the art. "It is a different world now with social media, Twitter, and real-time news," he says.
The changes racing fans should notice more than anything else is the removal of an old pavilion that will open up space next to the paddock.
"It is where the horses come before the race, it is where they go onto the track," says Jordan, "the more people who can get into that space, the more people will have that great experience of feeling like they are at Churchill Downs."
Renovations of a room that serves VIP members of the Twin Spires Club have been completed.
During the past decade, Churchill Downs has spent more than $150 million upgrading the legendary race track. All of the current renovations should be completed in time for next year's Derby.