Kentucky Downs begins $25 million expansion and renovation

FRANKLIN, Ky. (WBKO) - Changes are coming to a popular entertainment destination in South Central Kentucky!

Kentucky Downs is moving forward with its largest construction project since the track opened in 1990.

Thursday afternoon officials broke ground on a $25 million dollar expansion and renovation project to the facility.

Kentucky Downs’ first of three phases will add 18,000 square feet and the new building will feature more gaming, as well as more food, beverage and entertainment options.

The first phase is scheduled for completion before the 2020 live race meet begins Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The existing building will undergo its own dramatic renovation during the expansion, including transforming part of the current gaming floor into restaurants and other food and beverage outlets.

“We are looking forward to the expansion and renovation to our existing facility,” said Kentucky Downs’ Director of Marketing John Wholihan. “It just demonstrates the new owners’ commitment to making Kentucky Downs a prominent regional destination. We want everyone to know us as a go-to stop year-round for gaming and entertainment in addition to our famous September live horse racing."

The combined expansion and renovation will nearly double the gaming operation, housing 1,200 Historical Horse Racing (HHR) gaming terminals. Kentucky Downs currently has 753 HHR terminals.

Officials say the expansion will add around 300 jobs to the Franklin-Simpson area and beyond.

The anticipated second and third phases remain in the early planning stages but will be designed to greatly broaden the range of guest experiences and facilities Kentucky Downs offers.

Kentucky Downs last month concluded another record-setting race meet, with a total of $41,239,699 wagered on the five-day session’s 50 races.