Churchill Downs Inc. announced July 14 that Robert L. Evans will retire as executive chairman of the company and as a member of management effective Sept. 30.
Evans will continue as the non-executive chairman of the company's board of directors. These changes complete the senior executive leadership transition begun in August 2014 when Bill Carstanjen was named the company's chief executive officer, a position Evans had held since joining the company in August 2006.
Evans' nine-year tenure saw significant growth of CDI as the company invested approximately $1.8 billion in four major growth initiatives:
* Kentucky Derby Week: Numerous new events like Taste of Derby and the Kentucky Oaks' Pink Out and Survivors Parade, and multiple major construction projects at Churchill Downs racetrack, including The Mansion and Big Board (at 15,224 square feet, the world's largest 4-K resolution videoboard), along with new long-term presenting sponsor and television rights agreements contributed to Oaks and Derby Week growth and helped set all-time attendance, wagering, and profitability records in 2015 for both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby cards.
Installation of permanent lights at Churchill Downs racetrack ushered in Oaks and Derby Week's Opening Night event and the ongoing Downs After Dark night racing events that have now been attended by over 750,000 fans.
* Advance deposit wagering: The acquisition of AmericaTAB and Bloodstock Research Information Services (BRIS) in Lexington and of Youbet.com in Woodland Hills, Calif., were key developments in CDI's entry into the ADW business with 2007's launch of TwinSpires.com, now a leading ADW provider in the U.S.
* Casino gaming: Starting in 2008, CDI has built or entered into agreements to acquire all or part of eight regional casinos in seven states.
* Mobile and online casual games: In 2014, CDI acquired Big Fish Games, one of the world's largest producers and distributors of mobile and online casual games and representing a new growth opportunity for CDI.
During Evans' tenure CDI's net revenues nearly tripled and profits, measured by adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), grew more than 400%. Over $1.7 billion in shareholder value was created as the price of the company's common stock increased from under $40 to over $125 per share. In 2014, CDI was named to Forbes magazine's list of the 100 Best Small Companies in America.
"While I am extremely proud of what the CDI teams at all of our locations have accomplished, I'm even more excited about what they can achieve in the future," Evans said. "CDI is today a far more diversified company with much greater organic growth potential, with strong free cash flow, and a conservative amount of debt. Most importantly, the CDI organization is stronger, with much broader and deeper capabilities, notably in the use of technology. These are the key ingredients for future success and I trust CDI's best years will be the years ahead."