Where you can park when visiting Churchill Downs during Derby week
By Caitlin Bowling | April 10, 2018 5:00 am

The racetrack has altered its parking arraignments this year following transportation changes. | Courtesy of Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs has altered its parking guidance for those visiting the racetrack during the week of the Kentucky Derby.

Parking is a common complaint among the more than 150,000 people who come to the Kentucky Derby, according to Churchill Downs, but the new plan is designed to make parking safer and more convenient for guests.

“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,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs, said in a news release.

Changes to the parking and entry plan include only permitting vehicles with designated parking passes or parking tickets to access Churchill Downs property and restricting travel along Central Avenue between Floyd Street and Taylor Boulevard to official shuttle traffic only May 3-5.

All on-site parking at Churchill Downs is reserved from opening night on Saturday, April 28, through Derby Day on May 5, and unlike past years, vehicles won’t be allowed to simply drop people off unless they have a parking pass or ticket. The parking tickets are only valid for one use.

Those being dropped off by Uber, Lyft or a friend must be dropped off at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium during the week. Those taking a taxi can get dropped off closer; the designated taxi drop-off on Thurby, Oaks and Derby is next to Wagner’s Pharmacy.

Guests can park at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium free on April 28, May 1 and May 2, and either walk or ride a free shuttle that departs from the Bronze Lots F and G. Parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Oaks Day or Derby Day costs $20 per car.

A free shuttle also transports guests from the Kentucky Exposition Center to Churchill Downs on Thurby, Oaks and Derby. People can park free at the exposition center on Thurby, May 3, but on Oaks Day and Derby Day, parking there is restricted to ticket holders with reserved parking permits.

People are also encouraged as always to park in the surrounding neighborhoods where a mixture of free and paid parking is available.

“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,” Flanery said in the release.

“However, there are changes to this year’s parking procedures that everyone should be aware of before heading to the track. To ensure you have the best experience possible, please visit kentuckyderbyparking.com to plan your arrival.”

Insider Louisville reported last year that Churchill Downs is investing $32 million to upgrade the transportation infrastructure around the racetrack. The changes include a “highly efficient” bus depot, a pedestrian plaza, an enlarged paddock entrance, outdoor LED lighting and a perimeter fence.

Work around Central Avenue will wrap up before opening night on April 28, and then after the Derby, workers will begin the second half of the project near Longfield Avenue. That work will conclude before the Breeder’s Cup in the fall.