10/31/2017 6:14PM

Churchill announces new parking plans for Derby

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs announced plans Tuesday for a $32 million project to improve the parking and transportation for the Kentucky Derby and other major racing events held at the track. Designs call for an enlarged bus depot and improved transportation infrastructure to ease the congestion that typically arises for the Kentucky Derby, when annually more than 170,000 fans attend the races.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Churchill said it would package official parking permits with orders for suite, hospitality, dining, and reserved seats. A portion of the premium tickets – the track did not state what percentage – will include an onsite parking permit at Churchill Downs, though the majority of tickets will be limited to offsite parking with bus shuttle service to and from the facility.

Many Derby goers choose to pay for parking in the neighborhoods surrounding Churchill Downs, often leaving their vehicles in residents’ yards within walking distance of the track.

Churchill’s new parking facilities also figure to be extensively used on Kentucky Oaks Day, coming the Friday before the Derby, as well as on occasions when the track hosts the Breeders’ Cup.

Also part of the $32 million parking project is a pedestrian plaza and an enlarged paddock entrance gate for fans to enter and exit the racetrack.

Parking renovations are already under way at Churchill Downs, with the initial construction in the areas adjacent to Central Avenue, where the Derby Museum is located. This phase is scheduled to be completed before the start of the 2018 spring meet, and the final phase will begin after next year’s Derby with the target to have it completed prior to the Breeders’ Cup returning to Churchill Downs next fall.

Ongoing construction this meet has led Churchill Downs to require that fans park at the Longfield Avenue lot that is near the clubhouse turn and dirt chute.