LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Construction crews were busy Wednesday demolishing part of the historic Churchill Downs grandstand to make way for a new raised terrace and added seating near the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Track officials said the $14.5 million project will be completed in time for the Derby in May.
"We plan to add 51,000 square feet of space, and that space will be built right above us," track General Manager Ryan Jordan said Wednesday near the construction site. "There's really two significant moments that happen here, you've got the start of the race, the 20 horses that break from the starting gate, and you've also got the last turn down the homestretch."
The renovations will add seating for 2,400 and a raised patio that can be accessed by VIP guests.
On Wednesday, workers were busy tearing down a building behind the grandstand adjacent to the track's original paddock. Jordan said the paddock's arched roof will be preserved and moved to cover part of the new patio, called the Grandstand Terrace.
Track officials said no renovations have been done to the grandstand since the early 1950s.
The new terrace will have reserved seating sections on the second and third floors of the grandstand and about 24,000 square feet of mostly covered space on the second floor.
The historic track that has been home to the Derby since the late 19th century has undergone more than $150 million in renovations since 2001.