Politicians set to gather outside BMO Centre for ‘important’ announcement

The federal government is making a major announcement Tuesday afternoon, expected to be about the proposed $500-million BMO Centre expansion in Calgary.

The planned convention centre expansion has been backed by the City of Calgary and the Alberta government, each of which has promised to pay a third of the cost to double the size of the venue.

The details of the announcement have not been released but the federal government has organized Tuesday’s press conference outside the BMO Centre, calling it “an important infrastructure event.”

Should the federal government pledge financial support, the project could go ahead.

Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities François-Philippe Champagne is listed as attending the event, which is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. MT.

Alberta Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Stampede president and board chair David Sibbald will also attend.

More conventions expected

Situated just south of downtown Calgary in the Beltline, the BMO Centre is the largest convention centre in the city. However, its size of 500,000 square feet limits which conventions it can accept.

The expansion would bring it to more than one million square feet, allowing the city to host large conventions as a Tier 1 destination.

The venue’s expansion hinges on written confirmation from the federal government that it will cover the project’s capital costs. Between $135 million and $170 million is needed from each of the three levels of government.

The Calgary Stampede has previously said the venue turns down 11 to 14 large conventions each year. The organization had hoped to start construction this year but the date has yet to be announced.

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