When Tourism Calgary claims, “There are a billion reasons to hold your event in Calgary,” events producers can be assured it is not an exaggeration. Calgary is investing more than $1 billion into event facilities, entertainment areas, and transportation infrastructure — all of which will benefit groups meeting in the western Canadian hub city.
Here is a roundup of those “billion reasons” and how they are continuing to ensure Calgary is a world-class city for meetings and events.
The BMO Centre Expansion
When completed in 2024, the BMO Centre at Stampede Park will be the largest convention facility in Western Canada and one of the biggest in the country. The $500-million expansion, which includes the addition of 500,000 square feet of space, will double the Centre’s current capacity. The world-class meeting facility will have more than 1 million square feet of total floor space that includes 350,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space.
The expansion plans, revealed in June, call for the Centre to be modernized to help make it a safe facility in the time of COVID-19, with large interior spaces, flexible breakout areas, an outdoor plaza and pavilion. To meet the growing number of hybrid events, meeting rooms will be wired for instant connectivity.
New Event Centre
Also slated to open in 2024, the new $550 million Calgary Event Centre will be located within walking distance of the BMO Centre in Victoria Park. The arena will replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, home to the NHL’s Calgary Flames, and will include venues for sports and entertainment events of all types and sizes. In addition, an outdoor festival space will attract residents and visitors alike. Event Centre plans also call for streetscape enhancements to the surrounding areas, including nearby Stampede Park and the Elbow River, which is just two blocks east.
New Culture & Entertainment District
The Event Centre and BMO Centre serve as anchor projects for Calgary’s new Culture & Entertainment District, a mixed-use community envisioned as Calgary’s next great gathering place for residents and visitors alike. The new district, in Calgary’s east Victoria Park neighborhood, will include 8,000 residential units and 4-million-square-feet of mixed-use development space.
Plans include an extension of 17th Avenue and the addition of Stampede Crossing, a project that will link the new district to neighboring communities such as the Beltline and 17th Avenue SW, East Village, and Inglewood. Whether walking, cycling, or driving, residents and visitors will be able to travel through Stampede Park to the shops and restaurants along Stampede Trail, the city’s new festival street.
The project, which includes a bridge over the Elbow River and a new utility complex, is expected to be completed in 2023.
Among other developments in the city, Stephen Avenue, one of the city’s most recognizable streets, is being reimagined for the first time since the 1980s. The downtown pedestrian walkway, which runs in front of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, is a hospitality and retail destination, a cultural hub, and home to the highest
concentration of historic buildings in the city. Following the $500,000 redesign — which covers improvements of the street from City Hall to Mewata Armoury — visitors will no doubt want to hang out on Stephen Avenue beyond the busy 9-to-5 hours. Work is scheduled through 2023.
Light Rail Transit system
The $3.6 billion Stage 1 construction of the Light Rail Transit system’s new Green Line will connect the north end of downtown to the southeast area where the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre and BMO Centre are located, giving groups another quick way to get around the city when meeting at those facilities. After a year-long delay caused by the pandemic, work on the Green Line project will begin in 2021 and is set to be finished in 2027.
For more details on all that is happening in Calgary, visit Tourism Calgary’s new meetings website, which offers a new hotel, venue, and supplier search tool and event planner toolkit that give meetings producers a fast, easy way to see how Calgary will uplift their events.