The Calgary Stampede and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) announced on Thursday that the final 90-ft-piece of steel will be set in place this week on the new-and-improved BMO Centre. It marks a new milestone for the project after crews spent the last 11 months installing 9,000 metric tons of steel to form the base structure of the building.

The steel-build is a critical part of the building's design. Spanning up to 180 ft. long and 19 ft. wide, it allows for large spaces that don't require support columns, while also being able to support weights over four times greater than assembly-type buildings. "In fact," the CMLC says, "the load allowance in the exhibition hall allows for fully-loaded semi-trucks to be driven inside the building."

"This is an incredible milestone on a key project that will help the Calgary Stampede welcome the world—and our community—in 2024 and beyond," said Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley. "We can’t wait to open the doors to western Canada’s largest convention centre; we have already seen great interest in our remarkable new gathering space, with conferences already booked for June 2024, onwards."

The Calgary BMO Centre

Calgary bmo centre expansion 2(CMLC)

The BMO Centre originally opened in 1982. It has become the top venue for consumer shows, trade shows, special events, and conferences in Calgary, and has undergone two previous expansions -- in 2000 and 2009 -- as demand for this kind of large space has increased.

READ: Alberta Premier Danielle Smith Throws Support Behind New Calgary Event Centre

The BMO Centre currently consists of 285,000 sq. ft of rentable exhibition space, meeting rooms, and a ballroom. This latest 565,000 sq. ft expansion will add over 100,000 sq. ft of exhibition space, two new ballrooms totaling 70,000 sq. ft, 38 conference rooms, and a central gathering space "anchored by the largest indoor fireplace in Canada," the CMLC says. The building will be taller than even the nearby GMC Stadium and Saddledome.

Calgary bmo centre expansion 6

Calgary bmo centre expansion 5

Calgary bmo centre expansion 7Renderings. (CMLC)

The new portion of the building will be integrated into the existing structure on Stampede Park, replacing its aging portions, such as Hall A and the Stampede Corral, which was demolished in 2020 after a 70-year history.

All in all, the expansion will cost approximately $500M, with funding coming from the City of Calgary, the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Canada.

PCL Construction and M3 Development Management are leading the way on delivery of the project, which was designed by a team of architects consisting of Stantec, Populous, and S2 Architecture, who have placed an equal amount of thought into the space outside the building as well.

"The design of the outdoor plaza engenders a sense of open space while paying homage to the Corral that once stood on this site -- centre ice was in this very spot," says the CMLC. "The BMO Centre’s new outdoor spaces will invite people to experience the natural surroundings, diverse amenities and friendly hospitality Calgary is so famous for."

Calgary bmo centre expansion 4

Calgary bmo centre expansion 3Renderings. (CMLC)

Similar to the Saddledome, which is currently amidst redevelopment talks of its own, the BMO Centre expansion is part of the Rivers District Master Plan, which outlines a 20-year long-term vision for Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment District. An economic impact assessment of the Rivers District Master Plan conducted by Ernst & Young concluded that approximately 4,750 full-time jobs would be created just in the construction phases alone, with a possible 1,536 permanent jobs created on top of that after everything is completed.

"The expansion of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park furthers Calgary’s position as a thriving and dynamic hub for trade and tourism, advances our city’s economic resilience and position on the world’s stage, and represents a significant step toward realizing our vision for the Culture + Entertainment District, and our downtown transformation," said Stuart Dalgleish, General Manager of Planning and Development Services for the City of Calgary.

After breaking ground in April 2021, the steel structure portion was scheduled to be completed by October 2022, which means the expansion is on schedule. The next phase will entail constructing the building envelope -- the outer shell -- which is set to be completed by May 2023. Internal elements are then expected to be completed by December 2023 and the finishing touches by March 2024, with the new-and-improved BMO Centre expected to open in June 2024.

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