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Churchill Downs To Add Hotel, Gaming Parlor Near Track's First Turn

Rendering of the hotel's entrance
Provided by Churchill Downs
Rendering of the hotel's entrance

Churchill Downs has announced at major expansion project at the home of the Kentucky Derby.

The investment of more than $300 million will include a 156-room hotel, a gaming facility for historical racing machines and new stadium seating, all near the track’s first turn.

Construction is expected to begin in December and be completed at the end of 2021, pending approval of incentives by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.

A news release did not indicate how much they were expecting in state incentives. But state tourism records show a $200 million project by the Churchill Downs Racetrack LLC received preliminary approval in August for a $50 million "eligible refund" under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act.

Churchill Downs says in the release that it will also spend $11 million to renovate the track’s sixth floor Millionaire’s Row. The space will feature private dining rooms, lounge seating and a speakeasy bourbon room.

Company officials say the seven-story hotel will feature suites overlooking the track and a gaming floor that will house 900 historical racing machines. Also called instant racing machines, the devices work like traditional slots but are differentiated by the game's odds: when they take their turn, bettors are technically wagering on old races.

The new covered stadium seating for 4,700 people will replace the temporary grandstands in the area that are used for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs says the project will create some 600 construction jobs and 300 new permanent jobs at the facility.