08/30/2001 12:00AM

Churchill out for state funding

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Churchill Downs officials told Kentucky lawmakers on Wednesday during a public hearing in Louisville that the track was hoping to get assistance from the state on a capital improvement plan that would bring major renovations to Churchill's aging grandstand.

Alex Waldrop, Churchill's president, said that Churchill needs at least $20 million in capital improvements to address immediate problems with the track, but that the track had much more "ambitious" goals.

"We've come up with a plan we feel is very ambitious," Waldrop said, quoted in The Lexington Herald-Leader. "I'm not ready to put it before you yet, but it will change the look and feel of our historic property. It's a bold plan, it's an exciting plan, and it's a very expensive plan."

Waldrop said the track would go ahead with an existing renovation plan, "but unless we can forge partnerships, it will be on a smaller scale."

About 20 legislators were at the public hearing, which was called by the Kentucky Racing Commission.

Waldrop suggested that the track being given tax credits or help with a bond issue to pay for the renovations. Waldrop has also said that the track should pay taxes on its income, and not the track's betting handle, as a way of relieving the company's tax burden to the state.