Construction Begins at Churchill Downs

Mon July 07, 2003 - Midwest Edition

LOUISVILLE, KY (AP) Renovations at the track that’s home to the Kentucky Derby began Sunday after the last race of its summer meet.

The renovation is the second phase of a multimillion-dollar project to renovate Churchill Downs. Last year, the famed Twin Spires were refurbished and dozens of luxury suites were added atop the grandstands. Small pieces of wood from the spires were given to the first 5,000 visitors on Sunday.

The suites were the first ever at the 129-year-old track and are the most visible changes in the $121 million renovation.

The renovation work comes as the aging track looks for ways to hold on to gambling money that threatens to drift to casinos, most notably a nearby riverboat casino on the Indiana side of the Ohio River.

The $95 million second phase will include construction of more luxury suites. It also includes a new and expanded Turf Club and a new Skye Terrace, which includes Millionaire’s Row, where the rich and famous mingle on Derby Day.

The track will add simulcast facilities plus more dining rooms, kitchens and a new press box.