Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 7, 2013

New to track

Infield crowd can see Derby


The Independent

ASHLAND — The more than 50,000 fans who annually are packed into the 26-acre infield at Louisville’s Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby will have an added treat when the 2014 Derby is run on the first Saturday in May: They will actually be able to see the race.

That’s because the famed racetrack in Louisville is adding a 15,000-square-foot video board that will allow every paying fan to see the race.

The huge screen will be larger than three full-sized basketball courts. Churchill Downs says it cost approximately $12 million and be installed early next year, well before the Run for the Roses on May 3.

Let’s face it, people on the infield for the Derby are there mainly for the partying that takes place there before, during and after what has been dubbed the most exciting two minutes in sports. Of course, most of them also wager in the Derby and the other races and may even win a little money. But most of them will admit after the race that they were able to see little, if any, of the Derby.

Of course, fans have always known when they purchased their tickets for the infield, that they may not be able to see much of the race. But even if they were unable to see the race from their vantage point, they could at least be able to tell their fellow Kentuckians that they had been to the Derby.

Among sporting events in Kentucky, only the Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway, located off Interstate 71 between Louisville and Cincinnati, come close to drawing as many people as the Kentucky Derby. We’re certain the crowd again will be huge for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, making that Saturday the biggest day of the year in Kentucky’s largest city.

For the record, Churchill Downs can seat 55,738 people in the clubhouse and grandstand, but the prices for those seats are a bit too much for most Kentuckians. However, just about everyone can afford a ticket for the infield and that’s where you will find the common folk,. those who prefer beer to mint juleps.

What a treat it will be when infield fans  can see the race.