Keeneland To Build New Event Center

Apr 2, 2014

Keeneland Event Center
Credit Keeneland

Keeneland announced today that it will build a multipurpose facility – the Keeneland Event Center – on its campus to house state-of-the-art simulcast wagering, Instant Racing and dining. The facility is scheduled to open in July 2015.

Located near the Keene Barn & Entertainment Center (which will now be named the Keene Barn), the 40,000-square-foot Keeneland Event Center will mirror the look and feel of existing structures on the property, featuring a limestone façade and tasteful, understated decor. 

“We are excited about this new facility, and what it means for the horse industry and the community. Every initiative we undertake has to support a connection to those two constituencies. This will be an entertainment experience built around Thoroughbred racing, designed to attract new fans and to provide revenue to invest in purse money for horsemen and programs that enhance the horse business and the Central Kentucky community,” Keeneland Vice President & COO Vince Gabbert said.

Proceeds from Keeneland’s racing and sales operations have funded more than $20 million in contributions to charitable and equine-related programs since its inception. In recent years, Keeneland has evolved into one of Central Kentucky’s leading multi-use sites, hosting thousands of visitors and numerous community, charitable and corporate events year-round. Last year, more than 24,000 people participated in run/walks held at Keeneland that raised more than $1.1 million for a variety of nonprofit organizations.  

“We continually look for ways to engage the entire Keeneland campus and to provide exciting entertainment opportunities for the community. The Keeneland Event Center is yet another piece of the puzzle, complementing the Keene Barn, Keene Place, the Library, and the tailgating area we’ve dubbed ‘The Hill.’ All of these positively impact tourism and hospitality in the region,” added Gabbert.

The Keeneland Event Center will offer:

Simulcast wagering operations, which will be moved from its current location in the Keeneland Grandstand to a state-of-the-art sports book setting, featuring 200 individual work stations, multiple HD TVs, mutual clerks and self-service wagering machines;

600 Instant Racing machines;

Casually elegant dining ranging from a café to a sports bar, providing food service for 200 people; and

Parking for 650 cars, including valet.

Keeneland has applied to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for a license to operate Instant Racing, a form of pari-mutuel wagering that allows fans to wager electronically on historic, or previously run, horse races.

“We have a responsibility to use all of the tools at our disposal to better our industry, and Instant Racing provides another means for us to invest in our core business,” Gabbert said.

Instant Racing, which was approved by the KHRC in 2010, is currently conducted at Kentucky Downs near Franklin, Ky., and at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.