By MIKE FUSSELL | WAVE 3 News
When the horses break for Kentucky Derby 146, there will be fans in the stands at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5.
Among what’s still unknown is how many people will be allowed to attend.
For some who’ve already bought tickets, Thursday’s announcement came as a relief, but Churchill Downs leaders said they are still figuring some aspects of race day.
For Doug Dearen, who runs the Kentucky Derby tour, travel and ticketing site DerbyBox.com, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a range of emotions.
From when it was first postponed to the fall, until, now, when race organizers announced Derby week would include fans, Dearen has been getting phone calls and emails from clients. He said he’s still looking for some answers, but it’s a welcomed change.
“It’s a relief because there were so many people and so many rumors about what might happen and what might not,” Dearen said. “The fact that it’s going to take place, it’s going to take place with fans and it looks like all the ticket holders who already have tickets, like us for our customers, are going to be able to get seats.”
Among the differences announced this week are that the number of general admission tickets will be cut, possibly by as much as 60 percent, Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said.
Those patrons will have infield access only and will not be allowed on the “front side” or paddock.
Flanery said commemorative tickets are being switched to a digital, mobile platform.
“We’ve already had people call in this morning issuing concerns about that,” Dearen said. “They’re older, they don’t use technology, they’ve never downloaded a ticket. I hope, maybe down the line, they’ll change that. I understand why they’re doing it. That they don’t want to touch the tickets, but people love those nice, big, Kentucky Derby commemorative souvenir tickets.”
If people bought tickets from a vendor or secondary market other than Churchill Downs, Ticketmaster or Derby Experiences, they’ll have to reach out to their seller directly to find out the status of their ticket.
Churchill Downs leaders said they’re unable to refund tickets bought from the secondary market themselves.
Dearen said predicting how pricing and availability will impact the secondary ticket market is difficult in unprecedented times.
“I do feel like there are a lot of good premium seats at Churchill Downs,” Dearen said. “I think the premium seats, like always, will go up in demand and up in value. Some of the lower outdoor scattered seats may not be as in demand as the high-end seats, but you just don’t know, we’ve never been through this before. There’s just so many unanswered questions.”
Dearen said he feels there are a lot of people who were waiting for an official announcement to make a decision.
“We feel like that there’s a lot of business still in place for us from people that were just sitting back to wait to hear a definite answer,” he said.
Churchill Downs said it is reaching out to those who’ve already bought tickets.