Churchill: Derby Pumps $217.8M Into Economy

About a month after it made a public pitch for tax reductions and support from the state, Churchill Downs said Monday that the 2001 Kentucky Derby contributed $217.8 million to the economy Louisville, Ky., and the surrounding region over a three-day period.

The 2001 Kentucky Derby Economic Impact Study, performed by Wilkerson & Associates of Louisville, assessed the impact of spending May 3-5 by fans, horse owners, trainers, corporate sponsors, and media representatives. The economic impact study found direct spending by those individuals was $137.8 million, with a "ripple effect" that generated an additional $80.1 million.

Wilkerson & Associates collected data for the study through on-site and telephone interviews.

The survey found that expenditures related to the 2001 Kentucky Derby resulted in 3,608 jobs in the multi-state economy -- and direct expenditures by travelers accounted for 2,731 of those jobs. Total wages and salary income generated by the horse racing events of Kentucky Derby Week totaled more than $54.1 million.

"The horse industry has long been a signature industry in Kentucky, and this study provides compelling evidence that the industry and its greatest event, the Kentucky Derby, continue to make significant contributions to the quality of life in this region," Churchill Downs president Alex Waldrop said in a statement.

The study also found that $29 million in tax revenue was collected during those the three-day period: $20 million to state government in Kentucky and Indiana, and more than $9 million for local and municipal governments in the two states.

During a Kentucky Racing Commission hearing July 24, Waldrop said Churchill Downs doesn't have the capital it needs for major renovations. He noted that other sporting and entertainment venues in the region have spent far more than Churchill on infrastructure.

"We need a partnership with state government," Waldrop said at the meeting. "There's no other way to do it."

The third and final hearing on the state of Kentucky's horse industry is scheduled Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Papa John's Stadium in Louisville. The hearings may the set the tone for any legislation the racing industry attempts to put together for the 2002 session.