BMO Centre expansion has Calgary Hotel Association excited about 2024

November 28, 2023
Leadership General Business Life in Calgary Real Estate & Development
1 Calgary Hotels Association 1000 x 750

John O’Connell is director at large of the Calgary Hotel Association. 

Photo Credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

To say Calgary’s hotel industry is excited about next spring is a bit of an understatement.

After struggling through two years of the pandemic, better times are now at hand for the tourism and hotel industries in the city. And things will likely get much, much better this June, says John O’Connell, director at large of the Calgary Hotel Association.

“Everyone is really excited about the opening of the new BMO Centre at the Stampede Grounds in June, which will be the largest convention centre in Western Canada.”

At more than one million square feet, the new centre will allow Calgary to host conventions of more than 10,000 delegates year-round, making it one of the premier venues in North America, he adds.

That’s good news for the hotel industry, which foresees many more visitors to the city each year. O’Connell is quick to note that the BMO Centre will not generate business at the expense of the city’s downtown TELUS Convention Centre. Instead, the two will complement each other.

“Due to the size of the new BMO Centre, it’s going to be able to handle larger conventions than could ever fit in the TELUS Convention Centre,” he says. “But there are many conventions that would still come to Calgary in that 1,000- to 1,500-person range, which are ideal for the TELUS venue.”

Both facilities are expected to be increasingly busy over the next few years as Calgary’s economy continues to expand and its reputation as a world-class city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains grows.

“With the new convention centre, we will be competing with Tier 1 cities across Canada — like Toronto — and for that matter, internationally, but not every city has the Rockies in the backdrop, less than 45 minutes’ drive away,” O’Connell says.

He notes it’s already common for conference delegates at TELUS Convention Centre events to book mountain vacations around their convention visits, he adds.

“The Rockies are definitely an attraction that makes Calgary a destination beyond a convention.”

The BMO Centre will be a new economic driver for Calgary’s tourism industry, expected to attract 100,000 visitors per year and contributing to the $3 billion in annual tourism dollars projected for 2026, O’Connell says.

“Over the next five years, we’re really going to see a surge in overall tourism and conventions to Calgary because of the formidable, one-two punch that the existing TELUS Convention Centre and the new BMO Centre will provide.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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