LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Churchill Downs plans to spend at least $211 million in the next three years on building projects at its historic Louisville racetrack and at its casino-like Derby City Gaming facility on Poplar Level Road.

The projects are meant to accelerate growth at Derby City Gaming – a financial juggernaut since its 2018 debut – and to continue the trend of adding higher-priced, all-inclusive seating packages for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.

The company detailed the investments in press releases accompanying its quarterly results Wednesday.

At Derby City Gaming, which features 911 slots-mimicking historical horse racing machines, the company plans to spend $76 million adding up to 400 more gaming machines and a five-story, 123-room hotel.

The Derby City Gaming expansion will include “a VIP gaming space, a new sports bar, a stage for live entertainment and an upscale-casual restaurant and bar,” according to a news release.

Derby City Gaming has been a runaway success since its 2018 opening, proving a market for casino-like gambling in Louisville, where casinos aren’t legal.

As of May, consumers had placed almost $3 billion in the slots-like machines at Derby City, according to regulatory reports. The machines have generated $4,303 in wagers per day, on average, in the current fiscal year, up 28% from the prior year.

Racetrack projects

Churchill Downs also announced a trio of projects, which will be completed successively through 2024, at its Louisville track, where the Kentucky Derby is run every Spring.

The company plans to spend $45 million on the “Homestretch Club,” which will be completed ahead of next year’s Derby.

The project will enclose outdoor bleacher seating along the track’s homestretch, making for 18,600 square feet of indoor space in “a high-end air-conditioned club atmosphere,” according to a news release.

The Homestretch Club will include 3,250 “stadium club” seats sold through all-inclusive food and beverage packages. That’s 1,950 fewer reserved seats than in the area currently, Churchill Downs said.

Then, ahead of the 2023 Derby, Churchill Downs plans to unveil more permanent, all-inclusive stadium seating at the “Turn 1 Experience” near the track’s first turn.

The temporary grandstands erected for Kentucky Oaks and Derby weekend will be replaced with 5,100 stadium seats as part of the $90 million project.

The company also plans a “climate-controlled hospitality venue below the new stadium seats that will serve as premium seating for up to 2,000 guests who will have access to an adjacent trackside reserved viewing terrace allowing them to view signature moments along the rail.”

Finally, Churchill Downs plans to redesign the Paddock area of the track ahead of the 2024 Derby, but details and cost estimates are pending.

“In addition to introducing new and innovative seating and experiences, the redesign will reduce congestion by significantly improving the flow of guests through the Paddock and Plaza areas,” the company said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.