Racing fans prepare to navigate new gate names, parking plan for Derby week at Churchill Downs
Finishing touches to a new paddock entrance, parking plan and shuttle service before the Kentucky Derby.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Churchill Downs staff is on the homestretch heading into Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.
Late this week, thousands will funnel through gates and metal detectors to cheer on 20 Derby horses for "The Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports."
"This is a wonderful week," Darren Rogers with Churchill Downs said. "We have hundreds of employees at Churchill Downs. We live for this week. We take great pride in it."
Rogers said the staff is diligently working to finish all of the final details inside of Churchill Downs.
"It's all the tedious little details, from planting flowers, to placing recycle bins, to putting up tents," Rogers said.
While the inside of the track is getting a last minute face lift, the outside has already taken on a new shape. New parking lots and gates will get thousands into the track.
"Opening night, we had 22,000 people on hand. It was a great trial run," said Rogers about the first time with the new changes. "Anytime there's something new, you'll have to make adjustments, but it was great for opening night."
The biggest changes people will notice aside from parking differences are the renamed gates.
The space between gates 1 and 17 combined to make the brand new Paddock Gate. Patrons can access this gate with reserved tickets and general tickets. It can be found right off Central Avenue, to the right of the iconic Barbaro statue, which sits in front of the Kentucky Derby museum.
Clubhouse ticket holders must go enter through the Clubhouse gate, which used to be called Gate 10. This is in between the First Turn Suites and the blue lot.
The third and final gate fans can enter through is at the corner of Oakdale Avenue and South 4th Street. The newly named Infield gate was previously named Gate 3. This gate is solely reserved for general admission ticket holders. If a general admission guest has a chair, he or she must only enter through the Infield gate. However, all other general admission patrons are allowed to enter any of the three gates.
Parking has also taken on a drastic change. All on-site parking at Churchill Downs is reserved. All patrons without a parking pass can park at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, the Kentucky Expo Center, or in surrounding neighborhoods.
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium:
Parking and shuttles are free on Tuesday and Wednesday of Derby week.
On Thursday, parking at PJCS is still free, but there are no shuttles. You have to walk to the track.
Oaks and Derby, parking at the stadium is $20 per car per day, and there are no shuttles. It's about a 20 minute walk to the track.
Kentucky Expo Center:
Parking at the Kentucky Expo Center is free on Thursday, May 3 for Thurby, and you can take a complimentary shuttle to the track.
But on Oaks and Derby Days, all Expo Center parking lots are reserved for Churchill Downs ticket holders. The permits sold with tickets include the shuttle to the track.