12/07/2009 12:00AM

Longchamp to shut for renovation


France's premier racecourse, Longchamp, will close for 20 months following the 2012 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for a renovation that will include a new grandstand and paddock and the installation of a synthetic all-weather track.

The major overhaul of the famous track in the Bois de Boulogne west of Paris has long been in the works, but the scale of the announced project by France-Galop is surprising. An all-weather surface inside the existing turf course was needed to increase the number of annual days of racing Longchamp can run from 30 to perhaps as many as 50. In addition, one of the existing grandstands will be torn down to make way for a more up-to-date facility, and the paddock will undergo a complete renovation.

Longchamp rarely attracts more than 5,000 or 6,000 people, but 50,000 racegoers have attended the last few Arcs, with half that number at the track on the day before the Arc. The site of the 2013 Arc has not been decided, but picturesque Chantilly 40 miles north of Paris is a good bet, although it can only accommodate about 25,000 people at most.

Longchamp will be closed from October 2012 and is slated to reopen in time for the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14, 2014.