LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Historic Churchill Downs in Louisville is expanding once again.  The racetrack announced it is adding a hotel, permanent stadium seating, and a historical racing machine (HRM) facility at the track's First Turn.

Churchill Downs wants to add a 156-room, 7-story hotel, all with private balconies and panoramic views of the track. The hotel will also feature rooms that don't face the track but have access to a second floor party deck where visitors can watch racing. Visitors can also look for a penthouse banquet room, 27,000 sq. ft. ballroom and meeting rooms that can be used throughout the year and according to Churchill Downs, most likely include exclusive Derby package offerings.

“Derby Week guests can wake up to a sunrise view as horses breeze around the track and then have their Kentucky Derby in their suite,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We took exceptional consideration with the design approach to this project to ensure that the addition will seamlessly enhance and complement the historic nature and iconic aesthetic of Churchill Downs. Our goal is to create a one-of-a-kind venue not just for Derby week, but for the public benefit of our community and visitors of Louisville to enjoy throughout the year.” 


Inside the hotel, look for a 900-machine HRM gaming area.  HRM's look like Vegas-style gaming machines and allow bettors to make wagers on races that have already been run.  The names of horses, jockeys, trainers, and track locations have been changed. Churchill Downs wants to also install a sports bar, VIP lounge and several year-round restaurants.  The new facility will welcome visitors all year long, but it will be packaged with excxlusive Derby Week hospitality access for 3,400 guests currently in Section 111.


Millionaire Row Renovation - Entry view to bar and track


The capital renovation is also adding covered, permanent stadium seating for 4,700. This will replace the temporary grandstands that have always been in that area. All in all, the project will add roughly 5,500 new reserved seating options for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.  In addition, 6,700 existing customers will have acess to the new facilities.

All of this depends on final approval of a Kentucky Tourism Development Incentive Act. If approved, the $300 million project will begin this December.

The new facility will add approximately 300 new permanent jobs and provide for approximately 600 construction jobs.  

Churchill Downs has received preliminary approval for the Tourism Development Act incentives that will allow the project to move forward.  The act is awaiting final approval from the Kenbtucky Tourism Development Finance Authority in Novemmber.

Along with the creation of a new attraction for visitors, Churchill Downs also plans to renovate Millionaires Row on the sixth floor.  Churchill plans to spend $11 million on the renovation and it will include privatre dining rooms, lounge seating, window dining, and a speakeasy bourbon room.  Work will begin on the renovations following the Fall Meet in December and will be completed before the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2020.