09/26/2002 11:00PM

Churchill approves $95M for renovations


LOUISVILLE, Ky - The board of directors of Churchill Downs Inc. has approved phase two of the flagship track's massive renovation, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than originally planned.

At a late Thursday meeting, the board approved $95 million of a project expected to total about $121 million. The original phase two was altered somewhat by eliminating a proposed simulcast facility and lights for night racing.

Financing of the second phase will be accomplished through a variety of ways, including tax incentives, loans, private stock placement, and bond markets, according to CDI senior vice president Mike Miller.

CDI president Tom Meeker said the original proposal of $100 million was scaled back because the track was unable to secure all the public financing it sought.

Construction on the first phase, which will cost about $26 million, has been under way since late last year. Phase two is scheduled to begin following the 2003 spring meet, and the entire renovation will be completed no later than spring 2005.

Some of the primary features of the most ambitious renovation in the track's 127-year history include replacement of most of the clubhouse, luxury suits, a new paddock entrance, simulcasting areas within the main building, and premium indoor and outdoor seating. Some of the more historic aspects of the facility, including the famed Twin Spires, currently are undergoing refurbishing but otherwise will remain intact.

The renovation "protects and preserves the Company's signature racing facility and underscores our commitment to the community in spite of the growing competitive challenges we face in the Kentucky racing industry," said Meeker.