LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Toni Goodman was close enough to see the horses kicking up dirt as they raced past, having spent a mere $5 for her trackside seat to an event just days before the Kentucky Derby.
But the 56-year-old Kentucky native won’t be anywhere near Churchill Downs on Saturday to watch the Run for the Roses.
“I think the Derby’s great,” Goodman said before the start of a claiming race featuring also-rans. “It lets people come in to see how beautiful our state is. It’s just not doable for me.”
One of the great sporting events has long been a world of contrasting styles, with a massive gulf separating the wealthy and famous preening on Millionaires Row from the T-shirt and jeans crowd in the infield. Major renovations completed in recent years, most of them geared toward well-heeled fans, seem to have put more distance between those worlds.
This year’s average ticket price to attend the Derby — a 2-minute horse race highlighting a full day of racing, partying and people watching — is $432, according to VividSeats.com. The Derby typically generates a brisk secondary ticket market as well.
The trend to offer high-end packages at sports venues reaches far beyond the Kentucky Derby. Any venue hosting a Super Bowl, World Series or even an All-Star Game creates an experience to cater to high rollers. New stadium construction often involves luxury suites,…