Since 1982, The BMO Convention Centre has been Calgary's primary venue for special events, trade shows, meetings, and conferences. The 50,000 square feet BMO Convention and Trade Centre is Calgary's largest convention centre. Plans are in place to double its size to almost one million square feet, significantly increasing its rentable space. The expanded Convention Centre will be the second-largest of its kind in the country with 250,000 square feet of exhibit space, making Calgary a top destination for international meetings and conventions. As it stands, various organizations are already expressing interest in booking. Calgary will now have the opportunity to host large conventions that it had to turn away in previous years.
The project valued at $503.7 million is paid for by equal contributions of $166.6 million from federal, provincial, and municipal governments. This modernization and expansion will open up new spaces for exhibitions, meetings, conferences, and shows.
The Convention Centre expansion project will provide a platform for economic diversification and growth. The Convention Centre will represent Calgary's community spirit and showcase what the cultural and entertainment districts offer as part of the City's vibrant, inclusive community. A 600-room hotel is going up nearby, and pedestrians and cyclists will have pathways to keep traffic flowing during big events. The Convention Centre project will provide substantial economic benefit to the City and boost the convention and tourism industries.
The project team includes Stantec, Populous, and S2 Architecture, all committed to conference facility design practices. The building design includes ample and adaptable spaces wired with instant connectivity and plenty of breakout space for people to meet and discuss program highlights. Outside the building, attendees will enjoy beautiful natural surroundings, plenty of amenities and have the chance to experience the flavour of Calgary's hospitality. The building will have a brick base topped with a curved, composite metal upper portion. Calgary is known for its iconic architecture, and the Convention Centre will be another draw for visitors interested in the building itself. The Convention Centre will cover three floors with 102,500 square feet on the first floor, 68,000 square feet of meeting rooms on the second floor, and 50,000 square feet for a ballroom. The back-of-the-house service area provides an additional 118,500 square feet. A central hub and atrium will connect existing parts of the BMO Centre behind the new addition. Highlights of the exterior also include retail and café spaces and four public art installations.
The BMO Convention Center's expansion is a big step toward establishing the downtown east end as Calgary's Culture & Entertainment District. It will help move the development of the area forward. Demolition of the existing building is underway, and expansion will commence in 2021. Construction will finish in 2024. Not only will this expansion project bolster Calgary's economy through tourism, but it will also create thousands of jobs during construction and after that. The BMO expansion is one of four projects undertaken by the City. A new arena will replace the Saddledome.
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