Kentucky Downs Unveils Newly Minted “The Mint”

May 19, 2023 | Vendor News

KENTUCKY (May 18, 2023) — Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer said the 5,000-square-foot The Mint Event Center that opened recently at The Mint Gaming Hall-Kentucky Downs is a shining example of the economic development resulting from the state’s General Assembly voting to protect Historical Horse Racing (HHR) three years ago.

“The horse industry in Kentucky supports 60,000 jobs and provides about $3 billion in economic impact,” said Thayer, who was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 120 that in 2020 codified the legality of HHR, the electronic gaming machines that utilize the pari-mutuel wagering system. “It’s not just Kentucky Derby week. It’s year-round. We have the best year-round racing circuit in the country now, and Kentucky Downs is a big part of that. But one of the coolest things about that bill is the ancillary economic growth that we’re seeing in places like Franklin and Simpson County.

“We passed that bill – and it was tough, barely passed – but we got it through and we continue to see investment from people like (Kentucky Downs co-managing partners) Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone in this facility and other facilities around the state. They’re creating well-paid jobs and a trickle-down economic impact on the community. This is a spectacular facility, and I’m sure it’s going to have a great economic impact on this region for years to come.”

Thayer, who drove from Georgetown, Ky., was among the speakers as The Mint Event Center was officially launched Wednesday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local, regional and state civic leaders and officials, including business representatives from Kentucky and Tennessee. The Event Center is Simpson County’s largest space for events and conventions. The facility is positioned as the area’s premier location for weddings, parties, conferences, corporate meetings and live entertainment.

“Isn’t this a wonderful facility? A facility that Simpson County and Franklin will get to enjoy for many years to come,” Franklin Mayor Larry Dixon told the crowd. “We thank the owners and The Mint for the contribution you’re making to invest in our community, which I know will help grow your business and will help grow Franklin’s business. People will come, they’ll come and buy gas, they’ll buy food, they’ll shop. It’s just a win-win for all of us.”

The Event Center can accommodate groups from 12 to 445 people. Still in the works is the contiguous Summerly Event Lawn, an outdoor, artificial-turf space that can accommodate up to 190 guests. The Event Lawn will have its own fire pit, an abundance of flat-screen television monitors and the Summerly Deck. Both the indoor and outdoor areas will be available for events held during Kentucky Downs’ unique all-grass race meet held Aug. 31 and Sept. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10 and 13.

“This is a great event space, and I think you’ll see a lot of folks wanting to utilize this space in the community and those coming in from outside the community,” said Kentucky Senator Mike Wilson, whose district includes Simpson County. “They’re building a beautiful hotel right next door. So I think this will be a real economic driver.”

The adjacent SpringHill Suites Franklin Mint, a 114-suite hotel by Marriott, is in the late stages of construction and scheduled to open July 6.

“For several years now, Kentucky Downs and The Mint have had tremendous impact,” said Steve Thurmond, the Executive Director of the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce who served as the event emcee.

“It’s not just about this property. It’s about all the properties around here. It’s about the properties in downtown Franklin, bringing people into our community – as the Chamber would say – to spend money. They’re doing so much for our community, and that doesn’t even touch on what they do for the non-profits in the community. They have become a true partner in everything that goes on in Franklin and Simpson County. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what we’d do without them.”

Simpson County Magistrate Marty Chandler said The Mint Gaming Hall draws 3,500 people a day into the county.

“There is nothing in our community that can accommodate the number of people this event center will,” he said. “With this and the hotel, there will be a lot more draw for tourism. It puts us on a level where people can see all the benefits Simpson County has to offer.”

The Mint Gaming Hall — home to more than 1,000 gaming machines and year-round simulcasting — complements the Event Center, providing other entertainment and excellent dining options for guests with additional time. It’s also the economic engine, just as the Kentucky General Assembly bet on in 2020.

“All the economic development you see here is exactly an example of that,” Winchell said after the ribbon cutting. “From our purchase of the property four years ago, we were committed to continuously improving and bringing more amenities to the area. The legislative bill that made it happen is what causes all of this economic development – and will continue to do that. Our goal here is every two years to bring something new. We have a hotel that should be finishing up in a month and a half. We’re looking at possibly adding a campground area and some other stuff going forward.”

Winchell and Falcone also are the managing partners in The Mint Gaming Hall Bowling Green and the new The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland. Keeneland is a minority partner in the latter, as well as a harness track being built in Corbin.

“We’ve been looking at some options,” Winchell said of The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland, located right off Interstate 75 in Williamsburg. “We just opened that, so it’s a little hard to commit to anything going forward. But yeah, it’s the same thing. A lot of economic development. A lot of positive stuff. And this all came out of the historical horse racing legislation. It gives us the ability to hire more people, put people to work and build projects.”

Kentucky Rep. Kevin Jackson, whose district is part of Bowling Green, said The Mint Event Center is an important regional addition.

“It is south-central Kentucky,” he said. “We’ve been known to work together as partners, whether it’s Simpson County, Warren County, Allen County, wherever. This is just another piece of the puzzle. We’re excited about what The Mint is doing down here in Franklin, and also in Bowling Green. I toured that facility a few months ago, and it’s absolutely beautiful. We’re excited we’re going to offer entertainment to people in this area and also bring in tourist dollars into Franklin and south-central Kentucky.”

Johan Mirkovic, The Mint’s General Manager, concluded the large gathering assembled to celebrate The Mint Event: “When you do things the right way, everybody is going to be in your corner. Period, and it showed today, including Damon driving almost 200 miles each way to be here. It just goes to show we’re doing something right.”

For more information or to book an event at The Mint Event Center, email

CONTACT: John Wholihan, The Mint Gaming Hall Director of Marketing, E:

SOURCE: From the Kentucky Downs Media Team.

Tags: , ,