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Turfway Park Breaks Ground On $145M Revitalization Project, Opens Next Year

State and local officials broke ground Friday on the Turfway Park revitalization project.

Churchill Downs is investing roughly $145 million into the project which includes installing a new grandstand with a capacity of 2,500 people and building a new 1,000 seat ballroom. Turfway GM Chip Bach says a synthetic Tapeta track was installed last summer which cost $5.3 million.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the facility represents the next chapter and a "brighter future" for horse racing in the Commonwealth.

"We're at the starting gate, but the race that this facility and this area is about to run is going to be long and it's going to be successful," Beshear said.

Beshear said Turfway Park has been an important economic engine for the region and a key raceway for the industry.

"This is an important project, not just for Churchill Downs, but to ensure that this industry operates throughout the state, that Northern Kentucky is not left out and is a critical part of racing in the years to come," Beshear said.

Churchill Downs purchased the property in 2019 for $46 million after having their eyes on it for a number of years, according to CEO William Carstanjen. He said to get the opportunity to return the racetrack to its former glory is great for the company.

"Second quarter of 2022 is when this should be done," Carstanjen said. "You'll see a facility that has the largest grandstand of any historical racing machine facility that we've built."

Turfway Park will have roughly 1,000 historical racing machines when it opens.

The project will create 800 construction jobs and 400 full and part time jobs once completed.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported that the synthetic track would be replaced with a dirt track. That is incorrect. WVXU regrets the error.  

Credit Cory Sharber / WVXU
Here's a rendering of what Turfway Park will look like once it's completed. The racetrack is expected to open in Summer 2022.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.