Demolition Derby Day at Epsom

Epsom Downs racecourse has started the second phase of its £27m redevelopment of its facilities with the demolition ofthe old main grandstand and by signing a deal to open an on-site 120-room Express by Holiday Inn property. The demolition work will be completed by September, at which point construction work on the new grandstand will start, with a view to ready by March 2009, in good time for the Derby. The grandstand will be able to hold 11,000 spectators, while inside, facilities will include a 960sqm hall with catering outlets on the ground floor, an array of flexible event spaces on the first, topped by 14 private boxes, including a ‘super box’ for 100 on the second floor. The hotel, which has been welcomed by the local chamber of commerce and business community, will start taking bookings from September and is scheduled to open this time next year. Epsom Downs Racecourse managing director Stephen Wallis said: “Phase two of our plan is well and truly underway and I am delighted with the results so far. The hotel will also be greatly beneficial to our already successful non-racing business.” Despite the building work, the Epsom will host the Derby Festival next year, and work on the new grandstand will be at a stage that it will be able to hold 5,000 racegoers on its steppings. Epsom marked the occasion with a demolition lunch, which it bravely hosted on Friday the 13th, and handed guests souvenir jars of rubble on departure. “I thought this would be more fun than a topping-off ceremony,” said Wallace. “However, the chef was perturbed when I insisted on crumble for pudding.”

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