Churchill Downs to add hotel, gaming venue to track by 2021

Finally. It's no longer a whisper; it's official -- Churchill Downs is moving forward with plans to build a hotel at the facility.
Published: Aug. 2, 2019 at 12:57 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After years of whispers and rumors, Churchill Downs has finally announced a hotel is coming to the track as early as 2021.

During a company quarterly earnings call Thursday, Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen announced the addition of the hotel, a gaming facility and additional premium seating would be added to the track.

“When you have an amenity like a hotel, you can keep guests longer and you can attract additional guests to the facility,” Carstanjen said.

The only details Carstanjen revealed were that the hotel would include suites overlooking the track and that it, along with the gaming facility and the seating, would be located near the first turn.

The gaming facility will have historical wagering machines, just like Derby City Gaming, which CDI opened last year.

Derby City Gaming brought in a net revenue of $21 million over the past three months and has allowed CDI to increase purse values.

“Derby City Gaming is making a big difference, not only at the Churchill Downs racetrack, but to the health of thoroughbred racing across Kentucky,” Carstanjen said.

Carstanjen said the future facility at the track is permitted under its existing license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. CDI has been approved for 2,000 machines, and it only has 1,000 at Derby City Gaming.

Carstanjen said constants like the gaming facility and close proximity to the airport, UofL and downtown Louisville will help the hotel thrive outside of Derby time.

“It’s a little bit of a different model and a little bit more complicated to think through than someone who opens a hotel next to the airport or downtown without any particular singular event,” Carstanjen said.

Louisville Tourism says there are currently 20,478 hotel rooms in Louisville, more than 2,400 of which have been added in the past 18 months. Not counting the announcement of Churchill’s hotel, 1,664 rooms are currently under construction (534 rooms downtown and 470 rooms in the airport/Expo area).

Carstanjen said CDI is currently working with an architect on the plans and cost estimates that will be announced in the next quarterly call.

They hope to have the hotel project completed by the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Just Wednesday, WAVE 3 News reported that Churchill Downs is looking to permanently close part of 4th Street for expansion.

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