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Calgary Stampede unveils design of $500M BMO Centre expansion

via Global News  By Melissa Gilligan

The Calgary Stampede has unveiled the winning design for the new BMO Centre expansion in the city’s downtown core.

Design firms Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture were selected to work on the project and have spent the last year creating the design, which was revealed on Wednesday.

In a news release, the Calgary Stampede and development partner Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) said the $500-million project encompasses more than one million square feet of total floor space, including 350,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, and more than double its current rentable area.

“The innovative design unveiled today — its inspiring architecture and enticing spaces — will draw community members and visitors alike, day after day, year after year,” Calgary Stampede president Dana Peers said.

Stakeholders say the expansion will significantly grow and modernize the existing BMO Centre, allowing Calgary to host major conventions on a global scale.

Once the expansion is finished, Calgary Stampede CEO Warren Connell said the BMO Centre will be the largest conference facility in Western Canada and the country’s second largest after Toronto’s.

“When complete in 2024, the expanded BMO Centre will provide Calgary and southern Alberta with a significant platform for economic diversification through growth in both the convention and tourism industries,” Peers said in a news release.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi adds that the expansion will solidify Calgary’s role as “the ultimate host city” and help drive jobs and economic activity.

“The expanded BMO Centre is going to be a major draw for tourism and travel,” Nenshi explained. “From design to function, I’m confident this building will capture the attention of event organizers from around the world, creating opportunities for our local economy for decades to come.”

The provincial government echoed those sentiments, with Premier Jason Kenney saying the expansion will create jobs in the city “when they are needed most.”

“Once complete, this upgrade will continue to positively impact the Calgary economy, as conventions and events from around the world take advantage of the BMO Centre, creating jobs and supporting the hospitality sector,” Kenney said.

“In 2019, the Calgary Stampede contributed $700M (million) to Canada’s economy with $540M of that staying in Alberta — not including the construction activities associated with the expansion,” Wednesday’s news release stated. “Post-construction, the BMO Centre will add another $223M to Alberta’s economy and support 1,757 full-year jobs – 90 per cent of which will stay in Calgary.”

Stakeholders say the expansion is also a vital part of helping transform the city’s east Victoria Park into the newly planned Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment District.

“This project defines an incredibly important phase in realizing the Calgary Stampede’s and CMLC’s long-term vision for east Victoria Park and Stampede Park,” CMLC president and CEO Kate Thompson said.

According to the Calgary Stampede and CMLC, the project is on schedule to meet its projected June 2024 completion date, with the construction of Hall F set to finish up within a month.

Speaking to Global Calgary on Wednesday, Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland said that construction will move ahead somewhat more freely due to the cancellation of the 2020 Calgary Stampede.

“We’re all sad the Stampede’s not happening, but we’re going to take advantage of (that) and push through and get the project done,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland said the construction of the expansion is currently giving 2,000 people full-time employment.

“Once it’s done, it’s adding a couple thousand more jobs ion top of that. Permanent full-time jobs,” he said.

Tourism Calgary says the expanded BMO Centre, coupled with the TELUS Convention Centre and meeting and convention spaces at hotels throughout the city, will give Calgary a “significant competitive advantage.”

“The addition of the BMO Centre expansion to the Culture and Entertainment District is critical to developing Calgary as a destination for visitors and meeting planners, and a great place to live for Calgarians,” Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady said in a news release.

“We are proud of what our partners at Calgary Stampede and CMLC have designed and we know this facility and district will be significant additions to our city and our offerings to visitors.”

Crews will begin demolishing existing structures this fall and will then break ground on the new building next year.

Article by Lena Hogarth
June 10, 2020

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