Kentucky Downs plans for 3-part expansion

Photo provided by Kentucky Downs and I-5 Design

A rendering of the proposed plan for the Kentucky Downs expansion once all three phases have been complete. Preliminary approval from the Franklin-Simpson Planning and Zoning Commission was given on October 1.

The Franklin-Simpson Planning and Zoning Commission gave preliminary approval to Kentucky Downs during their meeting on Oct. 1 to start construction on an expansion plan covering three phases.

"The expansion will only enhance Kentucky Downs' role as an economic engine for the Franklin-Simpson area and beyond. Just the first phase is expected to add more jobs to our workforce of 300," said Kentucky Downs' Director of Marketing John Wholihan.

Denny Griffin, executive director of the Franklin-Simpson Industrial Authority, said Kentucky Downs is one of the larger employers in Simpson County right now.

"It just exposes people to Franklin and I think it is going to explore more tourism here," Griffin said.

The first of three phases will add 18,000 square feet to the south end of the facility on U.S. 31-W South with an estimated investment of approximately $20 million to $25 million. The new building will have more gaming area as well as more food, beverage and entertainment options.

See PLANS/page A2

According to a press release from Kentucky Downs, construction is expected to begin on the first phase in the next few weeks with the completion date estimated before the 2020 race meet in early September. This expansion will be the largest construction project on the racetrack grounds since the track opened in 1990.

The existing building will undergo its own renovation during the expansion, which includes transforming part of the current gaming floor into restaurants and adding other food and beverage outlets, the press release said.

"We are looking forward to the expansion and renovation to our existing facility," Wholihan said. "It just demonstrates the new owners' commitment to making Kentucky Downs a prominent regional destination. We want everyone to know us as a go-to stop year-round for gaming and entertainment in addition to our famous September live horse racing."

The expansion and renovations will nearly double the gaming operation at Kentucky Downs. Currently there are 753 Historical Horse Racing terminals, after the expansion and renovations there will be 1,200 terminals.

The second and third phases remain in the early planning stages, but will be designed to greatly broaden the range of guest experiences and facilities Kentucky Downs offers, according to the release.

Two prominent Nevada entrepreneurs Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone purchased Kentucky Downs earlier this year and created a new company, Kentucky Downs LLC.

Winchell said the goal is to "make it bigger and better pretty much all the way around, whether it's the main building, the racing, everything."

Kentucky Downs must now receive final planning and zoning commission approval for the expansion, which will be addressed at a future meeting.

Kentucky Downs is located at 5629 Nashville Road.

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