09/26/2001 11:00PM

Churchill Downs to get facelift

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs will undergo massive renovations over the next several years, including the construction of skyboxes, state-of-the-art simulcasting venues, and other sweeping changes at the aging facility.

A press release Thursday afternoon said the total cost for the multi-year project is $127 million. Officials of Churchill Downs Inc. were to unveil their plans for the renovation at a news conference Friday at the track.

Phase 1, which is expected to cost $27 million, is scheduled to start after the fall meet ends Nov. 24, although major reconstruction is not expected to begin until after the 128th Kentucky Derby is run next May.

Churchill officials had hoped to formally announce the renovations last spring, but the plan was fine-tuned within the last several months before final approval was granted Thursday by the company's board of directors.