The Calgary Municipal Land Corp. and the Calgary Stampede has a partner to build a 220-room hotel for the expanded BMO Centre.
Matthews Southwest Hospitality has been tapped to develop the Stampede Park hotel, which will be located next to Cowboys Casino at the corner of 12th Avenue SE and Stampede Trail.
Kate Thompson, CMLC’s president and CEO, said the project is critical to the success of the convention center’s expansion.
“It’s really big,” she said. “This is not only a long time in the making, but also a significant step forward for the actual BMO Center expansion, and the complimentary service of a hotel, right next to that expansion, is absolutely the next logical step in all our developments. “
Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley said an on-site hotel would make the BMO Center a “tier 1 convention facility” to support guests and staff for conventions and serve as a headquarters.
The two projects will also be physically connected, allowing guests to move from the hotel to the convention center without stepping outside — avoiding such icy conditions as blanketed Calgary on Tuesday.
Matthews Southwest Hospitality no stranger to Calgary
Matthews Southwest Hospitality is based out of Lewisville, Texas, but is well known in Calgary. The firm has already left an indelible mark on the city, as the real estate development company behind The Bow and the TransCanada Pipelines towers.
Company president Michael Garcia said the project is still in the design phase and said the 4-4.5-star boutique hotel will take its cues from the city.
“There’s a great history here in Calgary, so we’ll bring some of that into the hotel, it’ll be part of the design. That, in itself, I think will make a statement,” he said. “It will be a place where we want to see it as a living space for the community.”
The hotel represents the first private investment in the cultural and entertainment district. To this point, there has been $1.5 billion in public funding for the district, which includes the BMO Center expansion, the Arts Commons transformation, the 17th Avenue SE extension, Victoria Park/Stampede CTrain station rebuild and Stampede Trail.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who issued a written statement, drew a parallel with the potential of that investment to the revitalization of the East Village, which included a $366 million infrastructure build-out and $3 billion in private sector investment. attracted investment since 2007.
A budget has not been announced for the project, but the development stage represents an investment of $80 million. There is currently no data on the potential economic effect of the hotel, and Matthews Southwest Hospitality could not say how many jobs will be created by the project.
The facility will include four restaurants and bars, a fitness center and 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
The hotel site is currently a narrow 31,000 square foot parking lot, described as strategically located in the cultural and entertainment district with easy access to Stampede Park, the Saddledome, downtown restaurants, retailers, museums and theaters.
Hotel room shortage looms in the city
Sol Zia, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association, said the new hotel and conference center will help meet a predicted shortage of accommodations in the city that is expected to hit between 2,500 and 4,000 rooms by 2027.
“It actually becomes a hindrance to economic development and attracting conventions,” Zia said. “When you have a shortage of capacity, (the room rate charged by the hotel) goes up, which then becomes a disincentive to attract the convention business when we are overpriced compared to the U.S. markets we compete against.”
Other hotel projects proposed, including as part of the Stephen Avenue quarter, would also help address the shortage.
Thompson said this will be just the first hotel at Stampede Park, with the desire to build more accommodations and options to accommodate the growing needs of the area.
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Cowley said the additional rooms and space will be important during the 10 days of Stampede each year — this summer the city was over 90 percent occupancy for the duration of the festival. It will also be a welcome addition with the completion of the $500-million BMO Center expansion in 2024.
“We book and hold events year-round with the Calgary Stampede, and the expansion of the BMO Center really allows us to dig into the convention business,” he said. “We do have conventions now, but this will put us on the map as an international convention destination.”
While ground will be broken for the hotel in 2024, a timeline for construction has not yet been finalized. Cowley said they will take similar precautions as during the BMO Center expansion work to ensure the disruption is minimal.