Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment District will be getting it’s first major private investment in the form of an $80 million hotel development on Stampede Park.
The hotel, which is being developed by Matthews Southwest Hospitality, will break ground in 2024 next to Cowboys Casino along Stampede Trail and 12 Avenue SE.
“This is very meaningful for the future the Stampede—we’re so excited about the BMO Center expansion because that diversifies our business offering—it really takes this BMO Center from a trade show facility to a convention facility into a Tier 1 convention facility,” said Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley.
“But to be a tier one convention facility you have to have hotel support, and this first hotel in this location will certainly help in that regard.”
CMLC President and CEO Kate Thompson said the Dec. 6 announcement marked a major milestone for the Culture and Entertainment District.
“It’s really big, it’s not only a long time in the making, but also a significant step forward for the actual BMO Centre expansion, but the complementary service of a hotel adjacent to that expansion is absolutely the next logical step in all of our development,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of public investment in the area of BMO Center expansion, all of the infrastructure in and around it, but having private investments in the area really signals a change.”
Luxury hotel to be front face for redesigned Stampede Trail
The hotel will be built on the 31,000 sq. ft. parcel that will become the front face for the redeveloped Stampede Trail in 2024. There will be a minimum of 220 rooms in the hotel's design, alongside four food and beverage offerings, and an additional 11,000 sq. ft. in meeting space in addition to direct connections to the BMO Centre.
And while a marquee for the hotel has yet to be announced, it's currently being designed as a 4 to 4.5 diamond rated boutique hotel, which places it in category range of refined to ultimate-luxury.
Matthews Southwest Hospitality President Michael Garcia said that it was too early to determine whether the hotel would become a signature architectural piece like the fast growing inventory of internationally recognized buildings like the BMO Centre Expansion itself, the new Central Library, and the National Music Centre.
"There's no question it'll be nice, but that's what we're here to start with, to start to design, and move forward," said Garcia.
Matthews Southwest Hospitality has partnered with Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects to design the hotel. The firm designed the award-winning Broward County Convention Centre in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; the Reston Row Promenade JW Marriott in Reston, Virgina; and the Omni Nashville Hotel, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Matthews Southwest had successful developments of the Omni Dallas Convention Centre, in Dallas, Texas; the W Element Convention Centre and Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Calgary's own Bow Tower.
CMLC will be working with the Stampede and Matthews Southwest to take the next steps towards a 2024 groundbreaking. CMLC has been working with both organizations since 2019 on the hotel project.
"The stage stage we're getting into right now is the design and financing and permitting, so we'll start actually putting pen to paper and working with their architects and our team to understand what's the best fit for the urban environment," said Thompson.
The plan, she said, was for the hotel to be operational during the construction phases.
Spur for more development
Thompson said that the private investment by Matthews Southwest Hospitality would form a key hotel to spur further development into the district.
"The development community is very consistent. They want certainty of what the market is, and what's happening in the market, and what they can do to participate," she said.
"Coming to Calgary and seeing the construction well underway, seeing the steel completed, and seeing the progress that has been made on the infrastructure signals to developers like Matthews that this is happening."
Garcia said that as a company they look to what is happening within a community, and within Calgary they liked the direction that the city is taking on the BMO Centre, the expansion and redevelopment of theatres and art spaces, and the investments into parks and improvements for people's way of living.
"The leadership here really attracted us to Calgary, the culture, the history, and really where Calgary taken is looking to go in the future," he said.
He said that on the development of a potential new arena in the area, that they certainly hope that project goes forward, but that Matthews Southwest Hospitality is invested regardless.
"There's no kidding about it, we're hoping that it happens, but we're building anyway," Garcia said.
"We feel like there's enough in this market for sustainability of the hotel, but hands down, we hope that happens."
Potential driver for more conventions going into next decade and beyond
Cowley said that as his sales team has been working to attract major international conventions to Calgary, one of the things that convention organizers have asked for is a key hotel to provide space for organizers to stay and have meetings.
He said that the addition of the hotel will make it an easier sell for the Calgary Stampede.
"We have over 20 conventions booked post-opening at this point, and that extends through 2028. We have others that have indicated that they want to hotel before they book here," Cowley said.
"Some of those say we at least want a convention or a convention headquarters hotel where our staff can stay, and others are saying we want most of our attendees to stay within walking distance. So it will make it much more much easier for our sales staff to go out and sell this facility for conventions with that hotel support."
He said that signalling that hotel space will be available three-years out has already been a boost, given the between five-to-seven year time-frame it takes to plan out major international conventions.
The Stampede has also not ruled out further hotels on Stampede Park.
"We are certainly thinking that, and we're so happy to have this first one underway," Cowley said.