Horse racing fans have mixed reviews of $32 million in changes t - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Horse racing fans have mixed reviews of $32 million in changes to Churchill Downs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thousands of fans got a first look Tuesday afternoon at the $32 million renovation to Churchill Downs.

A new temporary walk bridge connects the parking lot to the entrance of the track so that cars can enter and exit the lots without having to stop. The bridge will be removed right after the Kentucky Derby.

Where a parking lot once was is now a paved walkway leading up to the several new security gates, the main entrance shifted over from where it was formerly located next to the Kentucky Derby Museum.

“(There's) a lot more security, and that seems good. That is a good thing. I am happy about that,” said Luanne Turnage, who’s been coming to Churchill Downs the Tuesday before Derby for 19 years. “I didn’t like that they upped the price from $3 to $10 on this day when the local people come.”

But some fans found directions confusing on where to go once they were parked in the new lots.

“There wasn’t really any signage up showing us to go this way, so when we got here, we automatically all went that way based on memory,” said Jenna Mattingly, who has been attending races at the track for six years. “But the security is a lot quicker.”

Christopher Jackson, a racehorse owner and trainer, was seeing the new construction for the first time Tuesday afternoon.

“People have a lot of problem with change, and we’re just going to have to adapt and adjust, and I think we’ll be fine from there,” Jackson said. “(Churchill Downs) modernized racing. They are really upgrading. The facility, you can see the add-ons … it is set up for big-time racing.”

The official Churchill Downs store is also at a new location. Now located where Gate 17 used to be, the new store is more than 7,000 square feet, more than twice the size of the original.

Race officials want to remind guests they need a reserved hang tag or ticket if they plan on parking on Friday or Saturday.

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