Edited from a release
Churchill Downs reached another milestone in its historic $121 million renovation Tuesday as the final steel beam was lifted into place in the large section of the track's clubhouse that is being completely rebuilt in the project.
Steelworkers who have been erecting the steel skeleton for the track's clubhouse applauded as a crane lifted the 42-foot, 3,500-bound beam into place. The beam was the last of nine million pounds (4,500 tons) of structural steel erected during phase II of the Churchill Downs renovation. Members of the construction crews, which began the job of erecting the structural steel on Sept. 29, placed their signatures on the beam before the crane guided it into position at the rear of structure near what will be a new Gate 17 entrance. The beam carried an evergreen tree and an American flag as the steelworkers conducted an informal "topping off" ceremony to celebrate the completion of the major part of their job. Churchill Downs officials had conducted a formal "topping off" ceremony in December for staff members and local officials to celebrate the placement of a beam at the highest point of the new six-story structure.
The placing of that final steel beam marked the completion of another major step in the historic renovation of the home of the Kentucky Derby. The $26 million first phase of the project, which created three new floors of Jockey Club Suites and spaces for meetings and events above the track's existing grandstand, was completed in Sept. 2003. Phase II, a $95-million effort that includes the demolition and complete rebuilding of a large section of the Churchill Downs clubhouse, began in July and is scheduled for completion in early April 2005.
"We applaud the reaching of another significant milestone in our $121 million renovation and we thank all of the many people, from construction crews to our horsemen, who have worked to keep this important project moving and on schedule," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs. "Everyone involved in this project has worked on a very aggressive construction schedule and dealt with obstacles that ranged from working around our training and racing schedules to the challenges posed by winter weather construction. It was very much a team effort that has successfully delivered us to this point in the project and we look forward to watching our new and vastly improved clubhouse continue to take shape in the coming months."
Louisville, Ky.-based Sullivan & Cozart is the construction manager for the Churchill Downs renovation. Havens Steel of Kansas City, Mo. was the structural steel contractor for Phase II and National Riggers & Erectors of Plymouth, Mich. was the subcontractor for steel construction. Construction updates and real time images of the Churchill Downs renovation are available at www.churchilldowns.com.