Heads up, drivers heading to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby next month: There’s a new parking plan.
After a $32-million investment by Churchill Downs to improve traffic getting in and out of the track on Derby and Oaks day — May 4 amd 5 — the track has a new transportation center that will change how many of the 150,000 visitors get into the track.
▪ Now everyone coming to the track will have to go through metal detectors.
▪ Gates 1 and 17 have been replaced by a new Paddock Admission Gate that also will be the location to catch shuttles to leave.
▪ All parking at the track is reserved for those with special hangtags (horse owners, trainers and others) throughout Derby week. This applies to vehicles dropping guests off, too. No access without the tag, Churchill officials say.
▪ Parking at the Kentucky Exposition Center (the fair grounds) is reserved on Oaks and Derby days. If you have a reserved seat the track, you should have parking at the expo center and a hangtag that shows you which lot to park in. Shuttles will take you to and from the track.
▪ Parking at Papa John’s Stadium is available for $20 per car per day. You’ll have to walk from there; no shuttles will run from the Papa John’s lots.
▪ Central Avenue between Crittenden Avenue and Taylor Boulevard will be closed except for shuttle buses and other high occupancy vehicles.
▪ Pedestrians won’t be able to cross Central Avenue except at Third and Ninth streets to keep shuttles moving quickly.
▪ Parking will still be permitted in the neighborhood around the track but with Central Avenue closed, you might have to take a different route getting in and out.
On other days before Derby, things are different. From opening night April 28 through Wednesday of Derby Week, you can park at the expo center without a parking tag and shuttles will be available at Papa John’s Stadium.
The switch begins with “Thurby” on Thursday and continues through Derby Day.
Churchill Downs recommends going to kentuckyderbyparking.com to sort out where to go on which day and downloading the Waze app to steer you through the streets.
“Each year, Churchill Downs is proud to welcome more than 150,000 people to the Kentucky Derby. One of the recurring themes we hear in post-event customer surveys is the challenge our guests face when trying to travel to and from the track on our biggest days. We have gone to great lengths to accommodate everyone’s needs with this new plan,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.