Calgary Stampede Unveils Design for BMO Convention Centre Expansion

June 11, 2020

The Calgary Stampede and development partner Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) today unveiled the design for the expansion of the BMO Convention Centre – Calgary’s premier meetings and convention venue since 1982. Designed in partnership by Stantec, Populous and S2, this visually stunning expansion, valued at $500 million, will significantly grow and modernize the facility and enable Calgary to host major conventions on a global scale.

Last year, the Calgary Stampede and CMLC carried out a rigorous competitive process to select the internationally recognized design team now leading this transformation—Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture. These firms, valued for their complementary experience and proven collaborative approach on major projects, have spent the past 12 months crafting a world-class design for a revamped BMO Centre that will enable Calgary to compete with major convention destinations around the world.

“We’re honored to partner with CMLC and the Calgary Stampede on this transformative project set in a destination that has such a rich history of bringing people together for unforgettable experiences,” says Michael Lockwood, Senior Principal at Populous. “The expansion design honors the history of the Calgary Stampede while contributing to the future of innovation, collaboration and modernization taking place in Calgary. This iconic facility will activate the city year-round and pave the way for Calgary’s Culture & Entertainment District, creating new space for residents and international event attendees to co-exist in a dynamic, authentic, inspired space.”

The BMO Centre will be the largest conference facility in western Canada, the second largest in the country, and will enhance Calgary’s tier one status in the international meetings and conventions industry. The expansion will include over 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 new facility will advance, inside and out, future thinking in premier conference facility design. The interior spaces will be ample and adaptable; event spaces and public areas will be wired for instant connectivity; flexible breakout areas will facilitate those all-important human connections; and outdoor spaces will invite attendees to experience the natural surroundings, diverse amenities and the western hospitality Calgary is famous for.

“As we prepare Calgary for the future, solidifying our role as the ultimate host city will be a major driver of jobs and economic activity. The expanded BMO Centre is going to be a major draw for tourism and travel, says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “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 BMO Centre expansion is significant also for being a keystone project set to catalyze the transformation of east Victoria Park into Calgary’s Culture & 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,” says Kate Thompson, CMLC president and CEO. “The mission 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—speaks to this commitment.”

“An expanded BMO Centre will bring new energy, talent and revenue into our city while adding another world-class attraction to the area,” says Thompson. “This design reveal is confirmation that our vision for the city’s Culture & Entertainment District is truly coming to fruition—and I couldn’t be prouder of what the team has accomplished so far.”

The expanded BMO Centre will also sustain thousands of jobs—both during construction and after it’s complete—attract private investment and development, and significantly boost both business and leisure tourism to Calgary and the province as a whole for years to come.

In 2019, the Calgary Stampede contributed $700M to Canada’s economy with $540M of that staying in Alberta—not including the construction activities associated with the expansion. 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.

Dana Peers, President and Chairman of the Calgary Stampede Board, adds, “The innovative design unveiled today—its inspiring architecture and enticing spaces—will draw community members and visitors alike, day after day, year after year.” This state-of-the-art, tier-one facility is designed to meet the needs of the convention and consumer show industries in 2024 and beyond. As an iconic anchor for the Rivers District, it is a catalyst that, in concert with the new Event Centre, will support commercial and residential development in the district and the surrounding communities.

Warren Connell, CEO of the Calgary Stampede, says that, “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.”

The full expansion project is scheduled to be complete in June 2024. The development permit has been submitted and construction of Hall F (100,000 SF of additional space) is on track for completion later this month. Crews will begin demolishing existing structures in the fall and break ground on the new building in 2021.

Calgary’s BMO Center expansion is the latest project designed by Populous’ growing convention center practice. Designs for places like the Anaheim Convention CenterHenry B. González Convention CenterICC Sydney and the Orange County Convention Center expansion create emotional connections between people and the civic, sports and entertainment places and events they love best. Contact us to learn more about our approach to convention center design.

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