Churchill Downs looking into increased capacity for 2021 Kentucky Derby following new guidance

Churchill Downs looking into increased capacity for 2021 Kentucky Derby following new guidance
Churchill Downs announced they are considering allowing more fans in to this year’s Kentucky Derby following new guidance on in-person capacity. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Following new guidance for increased in-person capacity limits for businesses in Kentucky, Churchill Downs announced it is considering allowing more fans in to this year’s Kentucky Derby.

During a virtual announcement of Woodford Reserve’s commemorative Derby 2021 bottle, Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson commented on the new guidance from Governor Beshear, set to go in effect starting March 5.

Beshear released new guidance Monday that would allow businesses including restaurants, bars, retail locations, and many other businesses with a 50 percent capacity limit to increase to a 60 percent cap.

“We’ve been planning for many months now for a reserved seating capacity ranging from anywhere from 40 to 50 percent with social distancing,” Anderson said. “And now with the governor’s announcement yesterday, we’ve started to analyze just how we can flex up and remain nimble for the weeks to come for any additional changes and restrictions that might come out.”

Last year, the Kentucky Derby was delayed from the first Saturday in May to September 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic. At first, the track was planning to hold around 23,000 fans in-person, but later backtracked the announcement and hosted a spectator-less Derby event.

Plans are still in place for this year’s Derby to take place on time and with a limited number of fans in the stands, Anderson said.

“We’re going to deliver a first-class customer experience, a great time for all of our guests, regardless of the numbers of fans present,” Anderson said. “It’ll be a true celebration for this community after a really rough patch dating back to last March.”

While Churchill Downs said it does not have any specific numbers or plans at the moment, the track will continue following guidance from all local and state health agencies as well as the CDC to maintain proper social distancing and safety protocols.

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