BMO Centre expansion opens in Calgary

The BMO Centre convention space expansion has opened in Calgary.

Scotsman Hill copy

The ribbon-cutting marks the end of construction, during which thousands of tonnes of steel were added to the existing structure, nearly doubling the BMO Centre’s floor space. The dark brown building will neighbour the long-awaited event centre replacing the Saddledome, both centrepieces of the billion-dollar revamp of Calgary’s rivers district, as reported by the Calgary Sun.

The need for greater convention space at the BMO Centre was included in a 2019 report by Ernst and Young LLP (EY) outlining the economic effect of the Rivers District revitalization. The report analyzed the Arts Commons expansion, BMO Centre expansion and new event centre. (At the time, Calgary city council had approved a deal for an ill-fated $550-million event centre, which fell apart two years later. The new arena planned to open in 2027 will cost $800 million.)

That was the centre of city council’s argument in favour of the expansion in 2018, when the deal was being prepared under then-mayor Naheed Nenshi. The $500-million bill was split three ways between the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

“The convention centre will have much more impact immediately than the arena will because we’re adding a whole bunch of extra days and a whole bunch of new events,” Nenshi said in December 2018. The EY report referenced the Arena District in Columbus, Ohio, which cost about $1 billion to build and included a convention centre. From what was originally planned in the area, US$406.5 million was additionally invested in the area, the report said.

The expansion, spearheaded by Calgary Municipal Land Corp. (CMLC), will thrust the BMO Centre into the Tier 1 category and is now the largest convention centre in Western Canada, nearly doubling the size of the old building. Between the BMO expansion, Saddledome replacement, Arts Commons expansion and Olympic Plaza refresh, the major projects in the Rivers District are all in various stages of development.

At over 1 million square feet, the BMO Centre will be the largest convention centre in Western Canada.

Read our STAY Magazine feature about the economic impact of STAMPEDE in the City of Calgary.

Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterSend to a friendCopy Link