by Alex Palmer | June 11, 2020
The Calgary Stampede and development partner Calgary Municipal Land Corp. have unveiled the design for the expansion of the BMO Convention Centre. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the $500 million project will transform the venue into the largest convention center in Western Canada. 

The expansion will greatly modernize the facility, originally built in 1982, and include cutting-edge connectivity throughout the meeting rooms as well as flexible breakout areas and outdoor spaces that capitalize on the destination's natural surroundings. Once complete, the venue will offer more than 1 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 project is led by design firms Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture, and will consist of a brick base that blends into the existing BMO Centre as well as a metallic upper portion that creates a barn-like appearance, meant to reference the farming heritage of the annual Calgary Stampede. 

"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," said Kate Thompson, CMLC president and CEO. "The mission is shared by the whole BMO project team. Together we will design a world-class facility that celebrates Calgary, captures the Stampede Spirit, connects the city with the Rivers District and activates the site all year long."

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project continues to proceed on schedule, with construction of the 100,000-square-foot Hall F on the northeast side on track for completion this month.

Those championing the project emphasized that the expansion would sustain thousands of jobs during construction as well as following its completion, while attracting private investment and business tourism. The venue is expected to add $223 million to Alberta's economy and support 1,757 full-year jobs. Calgary Stampede CEO Warren Connell added that the organization has continued to see high levels of interest in the venue even in the face of restrictions on travel and tourism.

"Despite the obvious challenges posed by COVID-19, we've continued to receive inquiries from interested conventions eager to book events when the building is complete, and the heightened awareness of health and safety protocols has provided an excellent opportunity for the design team and our operations team to ensure the utmost standards in health and safety are in place when the building opens," said Connell.  "Once completed, the BMO Convention Centre will have the advantage of the many differentiators that the great city of Calgary has to offer to clients from around the world, including the Calgary Stampede and our unique western culture and community spirit."