Churchill Downs welcomes guests with new look, new gates and a n - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Churchill Downs welcomes guests with new look, new gates and a new Paddock

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Every year, there's something new at Churchill Downs. In addition to new parking and changes to the gate names, the track has a different feel. 

For first-time visitor Tresia Lee, it's the sunshine and smiling people. 

Boyce Muse came to the track from California. "The people are so friendly. The staff, everybody," he said. 

Not to be outdone by the hats, bright colors and high fashion, Churchill Downs is also sporting a new look this year.

"We have this new grand entrance right outside the paddock gate. A brand new paddock gate," Churchill Downs spokesman Darren Rogers said. 

The grand entrance leads guests through new security lanes and into a bigger paddock, straight to the Twin Spires.

Alex Rodkey, who came to town from Pennsylvania, had good things to say about the changes, applauding the convenience and easy access through security. 

For out of towners, the changes are making a good first impression. "It feels like a lot more space for everyone to move around. A lot more open. Not as jam-packed," Rodkey said. 

Rogers said the changes were carefully planned. 

"We're glad people notice because we're proud of it. And it's all in design to get people to have a great day here at the races," Rogers said. 

As part of the $32 million parking and transportation project this year, the track moved the main entrance gate forward into what used to be the front parking lot. That gives the Paddock area an extra 100,000 square feet. 

Other changes at the track may not be noticed right away, like new signs and a bird net.

"If you look beneath the twin spires in the grandstand, we have a significant large bird net. It's to prevent birds from hanging out underneath the grand stand and doing their business on guests in their seats," Rogers said. "They're all nice touches that give a classy feel for a race. We're always trying to maintain our history here at Churchill Downs. But we're always trying to move that ball forward." 

Kentucky native Ashley Coleman admires the beauty of the historic track. 

"It is such a beautiful place," Coleman said. "It's such a great representation of what our state has to offer. And love that each year they want to make improvements. To make it special, enjoyable, and aesthetically pleasing. And a great environment for people who may only come here once in a lifetime."

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