The cost of hosting the Derby in Greenburg included hotel accommodations, transportation, and food and beverage for a small group of executives from various companies, such as Bezos Academy and LinkedIn. The most expensive expense was the Derby tickets, costing just over $80,000. Greenberg spokesman Kevin Traeger stated that this event allows the city’s economic development team to showcase Louisville to potential new businesses, which will lead to further growth and strengthening of the economy.
Greenberg and his wife also hosted a brunch on Derby Day, with hundreds of people in attendance. The invitee list consisted of local leaders and city officials, including members of the Subway Council, members of the Brown and Bingham families, and “office staff, spouses, children, family and friends of the mayor’s office.” Expenditures included $15,748 on Mayan Cafe meals and $3,417 on flowers, napkins, and linens. Overall, the hosting cost was higher than last year when Mayor Greg Fisher spent about $140,000.
Unlike Fisher’s guest list, Greenberg pre-published the guest list for Kentucky’s premier horse racing events. The Fischer government refused to identify Derby guests over their 12-year term, citing that it would adversely affect the city’s ability to recruit new businesses. In 2018, the Metro Council voted to allow the mayor of Louisville to keep Derby guests secret.
Seven executives from various industries accepted the invitation to the Louisville Derby, with three guests donating to the recent primary and general election campaigns. Valerie Bruce, general manager of BBC Studios in Los Angeles, donated $4,000 to Greenberg’s campaign, while Dan Ross, vice president and editor-in-chief of LinkedIn, donated $3,000 to Greenberg during his two campaigns. Ross’ wife Lisa was also one of Greenberg’s guests and donated $4,000. Other executives who attended the Derby as Greenberg’s guests included Bezos Academy president Mike George and his spouse Beth Rob, Mills, Vice President of Unscripted Alternative Entertainment at Walt Disney Television, Donna Olender, CEO of Olender Unlimited, former WNBA Chairman, spouse MGTJ Rogers, Cypress Semiconductor Corporation founder, spouse Valeta, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, and spouse Lee Grieberg.
Fisher did not explain why these guests were invited, but many work in industries that are a priority for local and state leaders. For example, Fisher announced last December that he plans to convert the long-vacant downtown Louisville Gardens into a movie soundstage, television, music, and digital production. The developer, River City Entertainment Group LLC, hopes to receive an incentive from the state to partially cover the construction costs. Greenberg’s office said on Thursday that work to clean up the gardens will begin next month. In 2021, the Kentucky legislature will reinstate the state’s film tax credit program to encourage film companies to shoot here.
Donna Olender’s appearance on Greenburg’s Derby guest list may have something to do with the efforts of fans and well-funded community leaders to attract a professional basketball team to Louisville, as she is in the entertainment industry. The city has not had a professional basketball team since the Kentucky Colonels disbanded in the mid-1970s. There was no public information about LinkedIn’s possible plans for Louisville or the city’s efforts to attract Louisville.
LEO Weekly received an email in February indicating that the Greenberg administration was trying to lure YouTube creator Dude Perfect to set up a proposed $100 million theme park in Louisville.