Derby City Gaming Downtown_Exterior Rendering.jpg

Churchill Downs Inc. is buying the US Bank building at Fourth and Market streets and plans to open a casino-like facility called Derby City Gaming Downtown at that location. Rendering courtesy of Churchill Downs. Sept. 30, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs plans to spend $80 million on its Derby City Gaming Downtown project, the company disclosed Wednesday afternoon as part of its latest financial results. 

Churchill also estimates a mid-2023 opening for the slots-like historical horse racing venue slated for the U.S. Bank building at Fourth and Market streets. That's slightly longer than an early 2023 timeframe the company announced last month.

In a separate development, the Louisville-based horse racing and gambling company told city planners October 22 that it expects to spend about $6.4 million on the exterior of the bank building. 

Churchill needs city approvals before moving forward because the bank property is designated as an “individual landmark” and is in a downtown district that requires a review of any proposed changes to a building’s exterior.

The application to Metro Louisville Planning & Design detail other changes, including an expanded outdoor patio and a façade on the upper parking area emblazoned with a design of the Kentucky Derby's garland of roses. In all, the project envisions using about 19,000 existing square feet and adding another 2,844 square feet.

Churchill hasn’t yet purchased the property, according to online records of the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator. The city application still lists U.S. Bank as the building’s owner, with Churchill as the applicant.

Historical racing resembles slot machines, although casino games remain technically illegal in Kentucky. Churchill and other horse racing operators have used the devices for years in a legal gray area; state lawmakers voted to legalize them earlier this year in response to a Kentucky Supreme Court decision.

Churchill has three other similar facilities, including Derby City Gaming on Poplar Level Road.

In a press release announcing the company's third quarter earnings, Churchill said historical horse racing wagering at Derby City Gaming brought in $113 million in net revenue during the first nine months of 2021, compared with $55.2 million during the same period the year before. 

In all, historical horse racing has generated $184 million at Churchill properties this year, up from $54.8 million in the first nine months of 2020.

Churchill also plans to expand Derby City Gaming and add a hotel there. That project is expected to cost $76 million and be complete late next year or by spring 2023.

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.