Several parking and travel changes will be implemented for Derby Week 2018 as Churchill Downs Racetrack starts bundling reserved parking with its admission this year.

By Marty Finley
– Reporter, Louisville Business First

Apr 10, 2018, 6:54am

Churchill Downs Racetrack is implementing new parking and traffic changes for Kentucky Derby Week this year that are designed to improve flow into and out of the track during one of Louisville’s busiest weeks.

The plan, developed with traffic consultants and Louisville Metro Police Department, will significantly impact how people travel and park for the Derby. Churchill Downs said in a news release that the changes are part of an effort to expand parking capacity and shuttle service for those parking off-site while ensuring onsite parking and neighborhood parking remains for guests.

All onsite parking at the racetrack now will be reserved from opening night, April 28, through Derby Day, which is May 5. That means you’ll need a designated tag and parking tickets to park or get dropped off onsite.

Meanwhile, Central Avenue between Crittenden Drive and Taylor Boulevard will be restricted to public traffic from Thurby through Derby Day to clear the way for shuttles traveling to and from the Kentucky Exposition Center. On those days, pedestrians can cross Central Avenue only at Third and Ninth streets.

Churchill Downs officials are bundling reserved parking into this year’s ticketing packages and partnering with Kentucky Venues for off-site reserved parking at the Expo Center. For Thurby only, those without reserved parking permits can park at KEC for free and ride a shuttle to Churchill Downs.

Derby parking will remain in place this year at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, but the release said free shuttle buses from the stadium will run only three days — the opening Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday — during Derby Week. Those without reserved parking can park at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium during Oaks and Derby, but they will need to pay the $20-per-car fee and walk to Churchill Downs.

To help guests plan their trips, mobile Churchill Downs and Waze apps can be downloaded at the Derby’s parking website at

“Each year, Churchill Downs is proud to welcome more than 150,000 people to the Kentucky Derby,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack, said in the release. “One of the recurring themes we hear in post-event customer surveys is the challenge our guests face when trying to travel to and from the track on our biggest days. We know that our guests get to the track in a variety of ways, and we have gone to great lengths to accommodate everyone’s needs with this new plan.

“Many of our guests have time-honored Derby traditions, which we took into consideration when developing this year’s plan. That’s why options like neighborhood parking are still available and encouraged.”

Churchill Downs is in the midst of a $32 million capital project to improve the parking and transportation experience for fans. The first phase is expected to be completed in time for the Derby, while the full project will be ready in time for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Championships.

The project includes an enlarged bus depot, new pedestrian plaza and enlarged paddock entrance gate. The new entrance will replace gates 1 and 17 and create more plaza space inside the track. Other enhancements include new outdoor LED lighting and a perimeter fence designed to improve pedestrian safety and mobility.

General admission and reserved box seating prices for the 35th Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs have been set.

Breeders’ Cup unveils ticket prices for 2018 races at Churchill Downs

By Marty Finley