LOUISVILLE, Kentucky—Louisville’s Churchill Downs horse racing experience is developing Derby City Gaming Downtown, a new venue featuring historical racing machines, bourbon experiences, sports watching, and live entertainment.
This planned facility, a 43,000 square foot entertainment venue, is diagonal to the Kentucky International Convention Center. Derby City Gaming Downtown will initially include 500 historical racing machines, a fresh-air gaming area, and over 200 onsite parking spaces. The entertainment hub will provide guests—including locals, tourists, and convention attendees—three bar concepts including a main-level sports bar with a stage for music and live entertainment, a bourbon library, and a wine and charcuterie lounge. A retail and merchandise store will be located on the street level where guests can shop for Kentucky Derby-themed merchandise. Construction will begin later this year with an anticipated opening date in early 2023.
“Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) is committed to investing in the city of Louisville and today we are particularly excited to announce this new downtown entertainment venue,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “It is important that Louisville is a city that is thriving—a great place to live, work, and visit, and we are committed to helping create economic vibrancy for every area of our community.”
“We applaud Churchill Downs for their continued investment in Louisville’s hospitality infrastructure. Having a downtown touchpoint with one of our most iconic brand pillars is a boon to helping us successfully market our destination,” said Cleo Battle, Louisville Tourism president and CEO. “The attraction will fulfill a need for much-requested evening options for convention delegates and give locals and visitors alike another authentic experience to enjoy in the heart of Bourbon & Derby City.”
Churchill Downs has announced several development projects opening over the next three years that will focus on upgrading seating and spectator experiences. The Homestretch Club, slated to be completed by the 2022 Kentucky Derby, will give a view of the starting gate and offer ‘courtside seat’ experiences with VIP hospitality lounges and a 100-foot bar. The 2023 planned Turn 1 Experience will add covered seating with an adjacent trackside viewing terrace while the Paddock Redesign will offer new seating and guest experiences while improving pedestrian traffic flow through the plaza when completed in 2024.
Churchill Downs opened the original Derby City Gaming location about six miles from Churchill Down Racetrack in 2018 with an 85,000-square-feet facility. Derby City Gaming has already expanded once and has a third, 135,000 square foot expansion, along with a five-story on-site hotel in the pipeline to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023. Derby City Gaming operates racing machines, which is an electronic gambling system that allows players to bet on the outcome of historical horse races that have already been previously run.