SBD/September 2, 2011/Facilities

Churchill Downs Implements New Ticket Procedure For Kentucky Derby

Derby fans applying for tickets will be charged a $50 administrative fee
Churchill Downs "has implemented a new online ticket request procedure for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks that it says is more democratic and provides fans a ‘significantly improved’ chance of getting seats by using a first-come, first-served criteria,” according to Jennie Rees of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. CDI Senior Dir of Communications & Media Services Darren Rogers said that “up to 20,000 seats will be available, ranging in cost from $196 to $1,076 for a two-day package that includes the Oaks.” The remainder of the approximately 54,000 seats -- including “the very best seats -- will be sold to the owners of Personal Seating Licenses, season box-holders, Turf Club members, select sponsors, VIPs, the track’s biggest bettors, Derby and Oaks horsemen and select employees.” For decades, the "allocation of Derby tickets was cloaked in secrecy." Fans were “advised to write letters every year requesting tickets while also telling a little bit about themselves because the track sought geographic diversity.” Under the new system, fans “can sign up online at to start the process." Rees notes those applying for tickets will be charged a $50 administrative fee, whether they "get seats or not," marking the "first time in Derby history that those applying for tickets will have to pay even if they are turned down" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 9/2).

OUT OF THE GATES: In Albany, Leigh Hornbeck notes “ambitious plans to improve Saratoga Race Course include new dorms for backstretch workers, 200 more stalls, a new, air-conditioned, three-story building at the top of the stretch; a new paddock and a new jockey house.” NYRA President & CEO Charles Hayward said that the 21 projects are "ideas only and the NYRA board has not decided which ones will be built or how much construction might cost.” NYRA is “counting on income from video lottery terminals under construction now at Aqueduct Racetrack to pay for the projects.” Current estimates “show the 4 percent share from the machines will come” to $27.5M per year. Hayward said that the plan is to “leverage the income into a bond, but NYRA must first show it is profitable -- an outcome the CEO expects in 2012.” The NYRA BOD “will not make a decision about which projects to pursue until next year and construction will not begin until after the 2013 meet” (Albany TIMES UNION, 9/2).
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