Sunday, April 30, 2000

Ky. cashes in on run for roses

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOUISVILLE — The big winner in Saturday's Kentucky Derby will cash out with a payoff of about $160 million.

        That is the real Derby prize — the economic impact of the world-famous horse race and the three-week festivities leading up to it for Louisville and surrounding Jefferson County.

        “It's like having a second retail Christmas season every year,” said Susan McNeese Lunch, vice president of communications for the Louisville-Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

        By the end of the week, Derby visitors are expected to rent all 13,000 of the city's hotel rooms, fill its restaurants and leave lots of money behind at stores.

        “The impact of the Kentucky Derby on Louisville is almost incalculable,” said Mike Bosc, vice president of communications with The Greater Louisville Inc. Chamber of Commerce.

        The chamber uses the Derby as an economic development tool, bringing in executives from companies that are considering locating or expanding businesses in Louisville, Mr. Bosc said.

        Economic studies done by the University of Louisville and others have estimated the Derby's local economic impact at more than $100 million, Mr. Bosc said.

        The three-week Kentucky Derby Festival generates an additional $58 million with more than 70 events — including a fishing competition, golf and a fashion show — that an estimated 1.5 million people will attend.

        Two of the festival's signature events will be held this week:

        • The Great Steamboat Race between the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen is Wednesday on the Ohio River.

        • The Pegasus Parade through the streets of downtown Louisville is Thursday.

        The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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