Faith Jones' girls trip to the 149th Kentucky Derby was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
She celebrated her 60th with Linda Chadwick. Linda is the president and CEO at Rita's Franchise Co. in Pennsylvania, which owns Rita's Italian Ice. Chadwick said she has attended many large-scale events such as the Super Bowl but Churchill Downs was the best venue.
She said, "This is amazing."
Jones and Chadwick are two of the many Derby first-time guests who visited Churchill Downs' new First Turn Experience. The $90-million structure includes 5,200 seats outdoors, and 2,000 in a 50,000 square-foot club area.
The area's name comes from the location, as reported by Louisville Business First. Guests can see the horses clearly when they are making the first turn on the track. The club room has a central bar with screens all around.
First Turn has state-of the-art technology that allows guests to see the screen from anywhere in the clubhouse. Tickets were almost sold out by late April and selling for up to $900 at a recent date.
Lindsay Loprest, Todd Truesdell and other first-time Derby goers from Michigan didn't realize they bought tickets for First Turn but are glad they did.
Loprest said that he thought the experience was all-inclusive. It's a really nice experience. Yesterday, we were in Oaks' seats and the view from there was amazing. The restrooms were not too long and it was easy to find food and drinks.
Cari Anne Renlund from Wisconsin and her friends selected the First Turn Experience because of its convenience and that it is covered in case of bad conditions.
She said, "It's not disappointed me." We are very happy with everything - the seating is comfortable, the toilets are convenient.
Renlund's only complaint was that he found it difficult to tell which horse had crossed the finish first without a clear screen view.
The Paddock is the final phase of Churchill Downs multi-year renovation after the First Turn Experience, and the Homestretch Club ($45 million), which were completed last year. Paddock changes are visible this year but the $200 million project will not be completed until 2024, just in time for 150th Kentucky Derby.
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, said earlier this year that the Paddock Project was a transformational project. It is the largest in decades. The project will bring new guest experiences and improve the view and atmosphere for all guests who enter our historic venue at the front gate. Our goal is to create a level transformation and grandeur unlike any other facility in the world.
Churchill Downs Inc., based in Louisville (Nasdaq CHDN), is the parent company of Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville and Derby City Gaming. With $1.8 billion of revenue projected for 2022, it is one of Louisville's most profitable publicly traded companies.