11/18/2016 9:16AM

Churchill Downs adding suites, seating in time for 2018 Kentucky Derby

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs will add 1,800 new seats in time for the 2018 Kentucky Derby as part of a $37 million renovation project, Churchill Downs Inc. officials announced this week.

The new seating will be part of the Starting Gate Suites, which will comprise luxury suites, interior dining tables, and third-floor grandstand seats, and will encompass 77,250 square feet of new space adjacent to the Jockey Club Suites on the north end of the track.

“The demand for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks tickets remains extraordinary with the number of reserved seating requests vastly exceeding our available inventory on an annual basis,” Churchill Downs racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in a release. “This sweeping new addition will be a terrific benefit to our facility on many levels.”

Project work will begin in January and be suspended during Kentucky Derby week. Work will resume shortly after the 143rd Derby is run May 6.

These improvements are the latest at the track, founded in 1875. The largest renovation in recent times cost $121 million and was completed in time for the 2005 Derby. Churchill officials report another $70 million has been spent on capital projects in the last six years.