As a tough year winds down and business event organizers begin to look toward the future, some destinations are forging ahead into a new phase of reinvention. In coming years, Calgary will slowly reveal the fruits of a more than $1-billion, destination-wide investment, including new event facilities, a new entertainment district, and an improved transportation infrastructure. When all is said and done, Calgary will have one of the largest, most comprehensive convention packages in Canada.
One of the biggest highlights of this transformation is an all-new BMO Centre at Stampede Park. Set to become the largest convention facility in Western Canada when the $500-million expansion wraps in 2024, the project will add 500,000 square feet of space, doubling the facility’s current capacity to offer 350,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and more than one million square feet of total floor space. The new design will also be in step with the latest guidance in regard to COVID-19, offering groups flexible, spacious indoor areas along with outdoor options, including a plaza and pavilion. To boot, an upgrade of the facility’s tech infrastructure will ensure groups with hybrid programs can depend on a reliable connection. Both the BMO Centre and Calgary TELUS Convention Centre have already earned GBAC STAR accreditation, the gold standard in outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.
But there’s more. In the same year that the revamped BMO Centre will make its grand entrance, the $550-million Calgary Event Centre will also open. Within walking distance of the BMO Centre in Victoria Park, the new arena will replace the existing Scotiabank Saddledome, home to the NHL’s Calgary Flames, and will offer new spaces for sporting events, live entertainment, and outdoor festivals. To boot, the surrounding neighborhood, including nearby Stampede Park and the Elbow River, will get a redesigned streetscape to allow for increased pedestrian access.
Beyond its expanding collection of venues, Calgary is readying a brand-new downtown experience that will reshape how locals and visitors live, work, and play. The new Culture & Entertainment District (or the C+E for short), a mixed-use community in east Victoria Park, is envisioned as Calgary’s next great gathering place with 8,000 residential units and four million square feet of mixed-use space. The BMO Centre and Calgary Event Centre will anchor the new development, while a planned extension of 17th Avenue and the Stampede Crossing will link the C+E to neighboring communities, such as the Beltline, the 17th Avenue SW retail and entertainment district, East Village, and Inglewood. Stampede Trail, a new festival street, will be accessible to cyclists and pedestrians, creating a lively thoroughfare that runs through Stampede Park.
Historic Stephen Avenue, which runs in front of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, is getting a facelift as well. Plans call for increased walkability, integration into the surrounding neighborhoods, a new calendar of events and programming, and added curb appeal to remake the iconic downtown street into a destination unto itself.
To start planning, visit the Tourism Calgary site, which was recently updated with new tools for comparing venues and suppliers as well as attendance-building and support.