LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled to September 5, 2020. It was previously scheduled to be run on May 2, 2020.
Every year the Derby is run on the first Saturday in May, however Churchill Downs is currently closed due to the COVID-19, coronavirus outbreak, and the social distancing measures that are in place around the country.
The rescheduling of the Derby will be a big blow to the city of Louisville, as it being the city’s biggest revenue generator. For people not from Louisville, it is “just a horse race,” but for Louisville and the people living there, it’s everything.
The Derby has its own festivities for two weeks leading up to the running of the Kentucky Derby. The events start off with a firework show on the Ohio River, includes a hot-air-balloon race, a steamboat race, and even a parade in downtown Louisville. The direct economic impact the festivities had on the city was nearly $373 million and this year the revenue was supposed to exceed $410 million.
People from all around the country come to Louisville for “the greatest two minutes in sports,” but this year the traveling will be at an all-time low at this time in May.
Most of the money coming into the city at this time is the betting on the horses during the races leading up the Derby race, and the selling of the tickets to Churchill Downs. This generates money to the city of Louisville, along with Churchill Downs. This allows the city to generate revenue to improve things in the city like roads and buildings.
Also, when the money goes to Churchill Downs itself, it allows Churchill Downs to renovate the track, the common areas and make it nicer than it already is. This will improve the overall experience at the Downs, so people will want to come back. It is a cycle that generates money for the city and for the Downs.
Another main source of revenue during Derby season are the hotel rooms. One room can range from $500-$3,000 a night during this time, with most hotels requiring a three-night package. However, with the Derby not in May, the hotels will lose money that they are used to making every year at this time. Hotel prices range from $50-$150 in Louisville for the weekend that the Kentucky Derby was originally scheduled for.
Other things like restaurants and other main attractions in Louisville will also lose money with the lack of tourists and lack of people eating out with the COVID outbreak. Restaurants will see a shortage of tourists in the city at this time as well. They bank on this time to generate profit, that they can’t get with no tourists. People also won’t be able to go to other attractions in Louisville like the science museum and the Slugger bat factory, losing revenue for those businesses too.
Other businesses that will be affected by this is the radio, television and newspaper companies in Louisville and all around the world. Companies pay millions of dollars to be able to air the Kentucky Derby because it is a big money maker for media companies. This is because of the amount of people that watch the Derby.
Without the running of the race, less people will be watching what that television company will be showing. This means there will be a low demand for companies to run commercials on their broadcast.
Another concern of the rescheduling is that there is no way of telling if people will still come to the Derby when it is in September and not in May. People plan to be at the Derby in May, so they may have other things going on.
Sep. 5th is also Labor Day weekend, so many people plan on spending time with their families, go to the lake or make plans, that are to not go to the Derby. Also, it is also the first week of the college football season, so many people will already have planned to go watch their favorite teams play on that weekend.
Lastly, the Kentucky Derby still might not be run in 2020 because no one knows exactly how the virus will be affecting people in September. This means that there would be no events going on in Louisville and the city will lose hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ben Benitez is a student at the University of Kentucky.