Labor Day weekend in 2020 will be a lot like Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July weekend were. Large gatherings will be frowned upon, or at least discouraged.
However, in Louisville, there’s a plan in place to allow 23,000 fans to witness the Run for the Roses on Saturday, Sept. 5.
Churchill Downs can handle about eight times more than that — 170,513 is the Kentucky Derby record, set in 2015 — but should there be any fans at all?
The largest-attended sporting event in the United States since the middle of March 2020 was a NASCAR race on July 15 in Bristol, Tennessee, where between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators watched Chase Elliott reign victorious.
At Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby will occur four months after its usual time, the infield will be closed and there will be no general admission. More could change, too.
Kevin Flanery, the racetrack’s president, said ‘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.”
Gov. Andy Beshear indicated the number could drop before the event takes place. He also said the mask mandate would need to be enforced.
A detailed plan that follows pandemic-related protocol will be in effect. We think it will probably work out just fine; and it may show that, with adherence to guidelines, there can be at least a percentage of spectators at sporting events going forward. It is, however, a significant risk and could create opportunities for folks across the Commonwealth to criticize leaders such as Beshear for sending contradictory messages.
Even if thousands of fans can’t lay eyes on these magnificent horses in person, the Kentucky Derby can still happen.
To many of us, 2020 feels like the longest year of our lifetime. If it still manages to feature “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports,” it could bring back a taste of normalcy. (Just avoid those big Derby parties).