Churchill Downs is moving to a new seating preference request form and deposit format for the purchase of tickets to the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. The process is similar to systems used for ticketing other major sporting events.
From November 7, 2011 through November 20, 2011, fans may complete an online Seating Preference Request Form. A $100 deposit (paid by credit card) is required at the time the request form is submitted. This includes a non-refundable $50 administrative fee. If your request is filled, $50 of the $100 deposit will be applied to the ticket purchase price. If your request cannot be filled, $50 will be refunded to your credit card. Fans should know by January 31, 2012 if they are getting tickets or getting the $50 refund.
Requests will be handled on a first come first served basis and allow fans to designate up to 10 preferences in seating locations. Check-marking a particular box on the request form will allow fans who wish to pay an additional 20 percent premium per ticket to move to the front of the line. As many as 20,000 Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby ticket packages, ranging in price from $196 to $1,076 per ticket will be available. You may purchase up to six tickets per household.
The new system is designed to give race fans a better opportunity for the tickets they want. Previously, the track offered tickets for sale through a select online ticket sale available to pre-registered fans.
Darren Rogers, a spokesperson for Churchill Downs, said of the previous system, "The select inventory would go on sale on a determined date and time and we would have an influx of web activity trying to land the limited inventory. We received a lot of feedback from several customers that were frustrated by that experience," Rogers stated.
Earlier this week an email from Churchill Downs was sent to approximately 17,000 people who had registered at ChurchillDowns.com/tickets to receive ticketing and special offer notifications from the race track. The email read,
"A deposit in the amount of $100 is required to be paid by credit card at the time you submit your preferences. If your request is filled, your $100 deposit will be applied toward the price of the tickets being purchased. If we are unable to fulfill your request, $50 of your deposit will be refunded to your credit card and the remaining $50 will be retained as an administrative fee."
"The email that went out incorrectly stated that $100 would go towards the cost of the tickets and if you didn't get it, $50 would go back [on the credit card]," Rogers explained. "It's actually $50 of that $100 deposit is going directly to administrative processing fees."
Rogers continued, "Part of the administrative fee covers the internal processing and handling costs along with the administrative fees that we must pay to our partners in the online ticket process. Here at Churchill, those types of administrative fees are charged to us every day for every ticket request or transaction that's processed."
The system was implemented to provide better opportunities and better seats to interested fans, but will fans pay for that opportunity? With 20,000 tickets available and only 17,000 fans currently registered, odds are good that those who really want tickets will be able to get them. However, there are still two full months to register, so if you're interested in receiving the email notification and Seating Preference Request Form on November 7, register at ChurchillDowns.com/tickets, click on the 2012 Kentucky Oaks & Derby Ticket Request Form button, and have your credit card ready.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby