Churchill Downs Inc. will not hold its HullabaLOU Music Festival in 2011 and has accepted the resignation of CDI executive vice president Steve Sexton.
Sexton, who served as president of Churchill Downs Entertainment Group, which was responsible for HullabaLOU in 2010, plans to pursue other interests.
“I am proud of the CDE team and what we accomplished, and I have enjoyed my tenure at both Arlington Park Race Course (part of CDI) and at Churchill Downs during my nine years with CDI,” Sexton said. “I was fortunate to lead superb teams at each venue, overseeing six record-setting Kentucky Derbys, two Breeders’ Cups, and the $121 million renovation of Churchill Downs. I am looking forward to expanding my career in a new direction.”
CDI, which also has dissolved CDE, might bring back HullabaLOU if the economy recovers. HullabaLOU, first held in July, was plagued by three consecutive days with heat indexes exceeding 105 degrees and lost an estimated $5 million.
CDI formed the CDE group in 2009 to develop large-scale, live entertainment events that could be conducted at CDI facilities and at other non-CDI venues. In addition to the HullabaLOU music festival, CDE developed the Fork, Cork & Style food and wine festivals conducted at Churchill Downs in September and at Arlington Park Oct. 2.
“It has become clear that launching new, upscale entertainment events in the current economy, particularly with the persistently high levels of unemployment, is extremely difficult,” said CDI president and chief executive officer Robert L. Evans. “While we received exceptionally high marks from the nearly 80,000 people who attended our CDE events, we fell short of the attendance levels necessary to operate these events profitably.”
Evans added, “I would like to thank Steve for his many contributions to CDI’s success.”
Three other full-time CDE employees will also be leaving CDI as the result of this action.