If you go to the infield at Churchill Downs Racetrack for next year’s Kentucky Oaks or Derby, you might notice a different look.
Churchill Downs Inc. (Nasdaq: CHDN) aims to construct a new infield entry gate and plaza at the corner of South Fourth Street and Central Avenue. It’ll be on nearly a half-acre at 3100 S. Fourth St. that Churchill Downs bought for $675,000 through an affiliate, AQ Properties LLC, as part of a multimillion-dollar spending spree around the track.
According to a development plan filed with the city, the site is at the northeast most corner of the Churchill Downs property. It will feature a statue and brick colonnade with landscaping that will serve as a roadway buffer.
In conjunction with that plan, a new ticketing office and Gate 3 infield entry will be erected that will match the aesthetics of the new Paddock Gate main entrance, which consolidated Gates 1 and 17 earlier this year.
As part of the development, sidewalk space will be expanded, and some portions of the sidewalk at Fourth and Central will be reconstructed, the filing states.
Darren Rogers, senior director of communications and media services at Churchill Downs Racetrack, said the racetrack has not finalized the costs for the project or produced renderings, but the project will be finished in time for the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The former PNC Bank on the site was recently demolished, he added.
Rogers said he’s not sure when construction will begin on the new infield entry gate and plaza, but he said the track could start construction before the fall meet ends because that area of the property is not really affected by fall racing and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships early next month.
In other projects, Rogers said, the the track is completing a colonnade along the main entrance of the track and will replace all of the folding chairs in the box seats with padded seats before next year’s Derby.
Churchill Downs also filed plans with the city this week to build four or five horse barns with stabling and administrative functions near the backside, but Rogers said that project could come at a later time.
“We haven’t committed to the construction of [the] new barns,” he said. “That project is just in the exploratory phase right now.”
The 20,000-square-foot rooftop garden and lounge will sit atop the Starting Gate Suites, a seating area that debuted last year at the north end of the track.
The lounge will provide covered reserved seating for more than 250 guests and about 250 additional standing-room-only tickets. Construction on this project will begin after the Nov. 2-3 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.