Countdown is on for the September Kentucky Derby
Longest Running Sporting Event Upholds Tradition
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 13, 2020) — By running the 2020 Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in September instead of May, Louisville’s Churchill Downs is keeping alive the long standing tradition of hosting America’s longest continuously held sporting event on September 5.
The crowd size will be reduced to less than 23,000 fans with reserved seating only. The restrictions announced by Churchill Downs reduce Derby attendance to no more than 14% of the record crowd of 170,513 in 2015.
Despite the changes, the city is commemorating this as a win. “Louisville is fortunate to have America’s longest continuously held sporting event and the brand awareness associated with this grand tradition. In these disruptive times, it is a bonus to learn that Churchill will be able to safely host a reduced capacity of fans, said Karen Williams, President & CEO of Louisville Tourism. “The hospitality industry represented 60,000 metro area workers pre-covid and this is welcome news to realizing some economic impact from what is annually Louisville’s largest tourism generator.”
Other aspects of the safety plan include:
- Mandatory facial coverings
- Guest and staff will be given medical questionnaires and be temperature-screened upon entry
- Fans will be provided a face mask, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a personal stylus pen to use at betting terminals.
- Pre-set served meals will replace self-service food. Beverages will be served with wrapped straws and bartenders will not open cans upon serving them
- Hundreds of floor decals and signs will be used to ensure spacing between fans and provide reminders about social distancing and mask usage.
- Fans will be restricted to the section in which they are seated.
- The Kentucky Oaks-day parade of breast-cancer survivors is replaced with a video tribute.
- There will be no red carpet entrance for celebrities.
The final Derby plan was produced in consultation with Gov. Andy Beshear's office and state and local health officials, Churchill Downs said.
This marks the second time in the Derby's 145-year history that it has been delayed from the traditional first Saturday in May. The first time was during World War II, when the race took place in June following Germany's surrender to the Allied Forces.