LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs leaders may increase capacity at the track to host more fans for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby.
The track has been working for several months on plans that would only allow 40-50% capacity on the first Saturday in May. During a virtual press event Tuesday unveiling the Woodford Reserve commemorative bottle, Churchill Downs’ new president Mike Anderson said the team is looking at bumping capacity up to 60%.
“Now with the governor's announcement yesterday, we've started to analyze just how we can flex up and remain nimble for the weeks to come for any additional changes or restrictions that might come out,” Anderson said.
When asked how 60% translates to the number of fans, Anderson said the team is “still working on numbers right now.” The capacity could fluctuate depending on the area of the track.
“Some of our spaces will be able to allow ... 50-60% easily," he said. "Some other areas, like dining and box seats, are a little bit more complicated as we continue to maintain social distancing requirements."
Tickets are on sale, but Churchill Downs is currently only selling a limited number of reserved seat tickets. Anderson said the team has been looking at the possibility of adding general admission tickets, but that is still up in the air.
“We have been watching closely the other events, like with the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, golf events, the Australian Open," he said. "We're analyzing all those events to see if we can get some general admission seats in the infield."
Churchill Downs will need to submit its plans to the state and have them approved, like they did in 2020 before ultimately deciding not to have any fans at all. Anderson said Churchill Downs will continue to follow state and local guidance to make sure the Kentucky Derby events are safe.
“Our team is extremely excited about hosting fans again this year," he said. "As you all know, most of 2020 was spectator-less. So we're going to deliver a first-class customer service experience, a great time for all of our guests regardless of the number of fans present. It will be a true celebration for this community after a really rough patch."
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