$500m BMO Centre expansion breaks ground

The Calgary Stampede, together with Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the city’s community-building specialists, is marking a significant milestone for the BMO Centre expansion. Right on schedule, crews are breaking ground on the new facility on Stampede Park—a $500m project in Calgary’s developing Culture + Entertainment District.

The pre-construction phases have rolled out smoothly over the past 24 months. The Calgary Stampede and CMLC chose the design team in Spring 2019 and revealed the facility’s transformative design in June 2020, followed by construction of Hall F through the summer of last year.

Crews have worked to prepare the site with extensive utilities upgrades and demolition work over the past year, readying the convention centre for its 560,000 square foot expansion.

Steve McDonough, President & Chairman of the Calgary Stampede, said:

The BMO Centre expansion will provide state of the art facilities for community engagement and economic benefit through job creation and tourism. The expansion will anchor Calgary on the international map as a leading convention host, attracting larger conventions and meetings to our province.

Designed by a collaboration of leading firms Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture, the building’s innovative design will dramatically transform the Calgary skyline. Beyond being significantly larger than the existing BMO Centre offering double the rentable space, the new facility will reflect, inside and out, today’s best practices in convention facility design.

The project is funded through equal contributions from three orders of government and provides opportunity for economic diversification and job creation in Calgary and the surrounding region.

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said:

The Calgary Stampede’s history goes back over 100 years, and it’s wonderful to see ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’ continue to grow and adapt with the times and needs of Calgary, Alberta and Canada. The Government of Canada is proud to support an investment of $500m for the expansion of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park. Today’s groundbreaking is the next step in this important project, which will create good jobs and reinforce Calgary’s position as a top convention destination. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, said:

It is exciting to celebrate the groundbreaking of the BMO Centre expansion today, and what it means for Alberta’s largest city. This incredible $500m project will help create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic benefits, as our world-class city delivers a world-class expo and convention centre. This is an important step in our economic recovery, and demonstrates the optimism, hard work, vision and entrepreneurial spirit that makes Calgary the heart of the west.

Prasad Panda, Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, added:

Infrastructure projects like the BMO Centre expansion, are keeping Alberta’s economy moving by providing good-paying construction jobs now at a time when they’re needed most. Over the long term, programming and operations of the new convention centre will benefit the entire community by ensuring ongoing employment opportunities and supporting vital economic activity.

Following the groundbreaking, visitors to Stampede Park can expect to see a significant increase in construction activity on site. This work coincides with other major projects underway in the district, including the 17th Avenue SE extension, Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station improvements, a revamped Stampede Trail retail corridor and the new Event Centre, all integral components of the master plan vision for the area.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, said:

I’m so pleased to see the BMO Centre expansion progress. We are solidifying our role as the ultimate host city, while creating new jobs and economic activity in the creation of a vibrant Culture + Entertainment District in Victoria Park.

Kate Thompson, President and CEO of CMLC, added:

We are thrilled to see this project move into the construction phase on schedule today. I believe it’s just the beginning of big, positive change for this district and downtown Calgary as a whole—something that’s going to be galvanising for our city, which, as we know, has weathered some challenges over the past couple of years.

When it opens in 2024, the BMO Centre will be the largest convention facility in western Canada, elevating Calgary into the top tier of the competitive international meetings and conventions market.

About the BMO Centre expansion

The BMO Convention Centre has been Calgary’s primary venue for consumer and trade shows, special events, meetings and conferences since it was built in 1982. As a key component of the Rivers District Master Plan, the expansion of the BMO Convention Centre is a critical first step toward establishing the downtown east end as Calgary’s Culture + Entertainment District.

In May 2019, CMLC and the Calgary Stampede announced the world class project team that will design and deliver the expansion. Following a robust RFP process, Stantec, Populous and S2 were assembled. Chosen for their complementary expertise – Stantec’s global involvement in transformational community projects, Populous’ innovative practices in international convention centre design, and S2’s local experience in projects on Stampede Park and in east Victoria Park—the three-firm design team is best in class.

To round out the BMO expansion team, CMLC and the Calgary Stampede have also enlisted convention venue operations specialist HLT Advisory Inc., urban design specialists O2, project management firm M3 Development and construction management by PCL Construction.

The total capital cost of Calgary’s new Event Centre is estimated at $550m

About the new Event Centre 

Calgary’s new Event Centre is a crucial component in our transformative work in east Victoria Park and it’s the third major community-building project ongoing in the Rivers District—after the BMO Centre expansion and 17th Avenue Extension.

Situated at the junction of 12th Avenue and 4th Street SE, the Event Centre marks the gateway to Stampede Park and serves as a dramatic showpiece for east Victoria Park—the city’s up-and-coming Culture + Entertainment District.

When it’s completed in 2024, the new Event Centre will add an extraordinary civic amenity that will serve residents and visitors for generations. In addition to delivering a world-class venue for sports and entertainment events of all descriptions, the project will also add dynamic outdoor festival spaces and enhancements to the surrounding streetscapes.

In June 2020, CMLC announced the world-class project team—chosen by CMLC, The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation—that will design and build the new Event Centre. Following a robust RFP process, the two-firm partnership of DIALOG + HOK was selected to lead the design of the facility, while another duo—CANA + Mortensen—will lead the construction.

Source & imagery, courtesy: Calgary MLC

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