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‘It is huge’: Kentucky Derby 150 estimated to have largest economic impact in history

<i>WLKY via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Kentucky Derby 150 is already historic
WLKY via CNN Newsource
Kentucky Derby 150 is already historic

By Madeline Carter

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    LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (WLKY) — Kentucky Derby 150 is already historic, but it’s also expected to have the largest economic impact in the tradition’s history.

Louisville Tourism estimates Derby weekend alone will bring in $405 million to the city. That’s approximately $3 million more than last year and the organization’s highest estimate for any Kentucky Derby.

“This year is a really big year because it is the 150th,” Louisville Tourism’s Rosanne Mastin told WLKY. “How can it get better than being here to do the milestone year, celebrate history with us?”

According to Mastin, people are expected to spend the most on hotels during Derby weekend. Citywide, 92% of hotel rooms are booked Thursday-Saturday. In downtown Louisville specifically, they’re nearly sold out at 96%.

Mastin said people are also expected to spend big on restaurants, distilleries, transportation, and local attractions such as the Kentucky Derby Museum.

“The gift shop in particular has been swamped,” said the museum’s President and CEO, Patrick Armstrong. “Everybody wants the Derby 150 merchandise.”

Leading up to the fastest two minutes in sports, the museum is showing off new and updated exhibits. “Long Shots” opened in March, the Kentucky Derby Festival exhibit features brand new artifacts, and the thrilling “Rider’s Up!” jockey simulator got a million-dollar upgrade just in time for the historic running.

“A lot of the locals will have guests in town, and they’re looking for something to do that is uniquely Kentucky, uniquely Louisville,” Armstrong said. “This is one of their destinations.”

At the start of Derby week, locals and tourists got a head start on their spending in the Kentucky Derby Museum gift shop.

For the first time ever, the museum will offer free admission on Sunday, the day after the 150th Kentucky Derby.

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