LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --Churchill Downs is at it again. The home of the Kentucky Derby is spending millions of dollars more on improvements to the track, this time to the long-neglected grandstand area.
On Wednesday it was quiet at the track. But on Thursday, demolition crews are expected to move in to begin clearing the way for construction workers to build what is called the new Grandstand Terrace.
The $14.5 million expansion and improvement will add 2,400 seats to the track plus a VIP Garden Terrace in the area that overlooks the starting gate for the Derby.
"What it is, is the first significant expansion and renovation of our grandstand area of Churchill Downs for Oaks and Derby Day in several decades," says the vice-president for communications at the track, John Asher.
Besides the additional seating, improvements will be made inside the existing grandstand. They will include new and renovated restrooms, improved concessions including a new food court, and new betting windows.
It is an area that has been neglected for a long time since it is only used on Derby and Oaks days. But that is likely to change after the improvements are made. Says Asher, "We also think it is a facility that further down the road will lend itself to family gatherings, reunions, and maybe some business meetings."
Asher says since 2001 Churchill Downs has invested about $165 million in track improvements. "We are looking to create a facility that also has multiple uses throughout the year," says Asher.
The latest renovations will preserve a little track history, a green roof now behind the grandstand area that was once part of the old paddock prior to the 1920s.
"We are going to keep that rooftop intact," explains Asher, "it is going to be elevated to cover part of the new terrace."
The latest renovations are expected to be completed by Derby of next year.
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