LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some impressive economic news for the city after the Breeders’ Cup chose Lexington as its host last November. Now we know exactly how that’s paying off.
A study by a University of Louisville economics professor went in-depth on money generated through jobs, money spent in businesses, and tax money for local and state governments.
To sum it up… they don’t call this the “Horse Capital of the World” for nothing.
When the Breeders’ Cup came to town in November, Lexington and Keeneland may have felt they had something to prove.
The pandemic put a damper on the horse racing’s world championships two years ago.
“We were really sorry we weren’t able to have the public here in 2020,” said Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin. “To have that celebration in 2022 and the community respond as we hoped they would was really exciting.”
“We were true to our word and when we weren’t able to have fans in 2020, we said we’d come back as soon as we could,” said Drew Fleming, President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Limited.
And they came back in a big way.
Here are the dollar figures. The total economic impact on Lexington and central Kentucky was a whopping $81.8 million. That’s the second-highest in the history of the Breeders’ Cup.
“The world was watching Lexington, Kentucky,” said Fleming. “We couldn’t have had a better time and the city was so welcoming.”
Breaking it down, visitors from all 50 states and 18 countries spent $33.6 million on hotels, food, and in other businesses.
“We’ve had a difficult two years with COVID, and you look at the hospitality businesses, the hotels, the restaurants, the vehicles, it was a struggle for everyone,” said Fleming. “For the Breeders’ Cup to come back here and make such a positive impact, talk to restaurant owners, hotel owners, this made their year, if not the decade.”
Keeneland fared well too… $30.5 million was spent at the track alone.
“It’s pretty simple. It was a resounding success,” said Fleming. “I think everybody that came here go to see the majestic Keeneland, the best horses in the world compete, and it was a tremendous week-long of activities.”
Worldwide, bettors waged a record high of $189.1 million on the two days of racing.
I asked Mr. Fleming, now that we see these figures, would the Breeders’ Cup come back to Lexington in the future? With a big smile, he simply said, “Yes.”