Churchill Downs to allow up to 23,000 attendees at Kentucky Derby 2020

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Churchill Downs has confirmed that they will allow up to 23,000 attendees into the Kentucky Derby 2020, which is scheduled to run on September the 5th.

If they do allow 23,000 fans to enter the premises, that will still be less than 14% of their best attendance record, and the day will be limited to guests with reserved seats only.

Safety first, but will that wash?

Spectators and everyone for that matter will be required to wear a face mask throughout the entire premises, and upon entry will be screened by filling out a medical questionnaire and a contactless thermometer test.

Mostly pre-packaged foods will be sold onsite, while the usual shuttles from offsite parking will not be permitted this year.

Controversially, this will be one of the largest crowds for a sporting event in the United States since the shutdown of sports in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 30,000 spectators were allowed at a NASCAR race on July 15 in Bristol, Tennessee.

Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said: “Reducing the size of the crowd is an important step to ensuring a safe environment.”

“Medical best practices and protocols — many of which we have applied in consultation with experts both inside and outside the sports industry — will be implemented, and we’ll make adjustments all the way up to Derby Day as we find ways to improve and continue to adhere to ever-evolving best practices.”

Other details from the plan:

  • Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will be prohibited from entering the facility.
  • More than 500 hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the facility.
  • Pari-mutuel tellers will be properly spaced and provided personal protective equipment for betting transactions. Guests are encouraged to wager online through
  • Concession stands will be limited mostly to prepackaged foods. Plated meals and meal packages from preset menus will be served in other locations.
  • Guest shuttles from off-site parking locations are being eliminated, and guests are encouraged to utilize neighborhood-parking options. Refunds will be made to all ticket holders who had off-site parking included with a reserved seat.
  • Dawn at the Downs, the annual event to dine while observing morning workouts, has been moved to Aug. 31 and will be limited to guests with reserved seats. There will be no free general admission.
  • The stable area will be restricted to essential personnel. Guests and parties in the stable area for morning workouts and during race days will be prohibited.

Churchill Downs reported near the end of July that its net revenue declined by a staggering $162.9 million compared with last year’s second quarter of the year.

The Kentucky Derby is a race with huge tradition and has been held every year since 1875. Last year’s attendance was 150,729.

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