By this time next year, Calgarians accessing Stampede Park will be see big changes to the park’s north entrance and to the space adjacent to the Saddledome entrance.
Symbolically breaking ground on Thursday, The Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation announced that phase one of the redevelopment of Stampede Trail was ready to begin.
When complete, Stampede Trail will connect 12 Avenue SE to 17 Avenue SE with a triple-lane, flexible roadway that will be accessible to vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, and can be turned into a festival space when closed for events.
“This is a really important investment in the Culture and Entertainment District, and it’s a foundational piece of the Rivers District Master Plan that we worked together on with Calgary Stampede years ago, to formulate and think through what could this area be,” said Kate Thompson, President and CEO of CMLC.
“So this is adding to the investment that’s already happened in the district—over $600 million worth of projects underway, many of which you can see and hear right now.”
Phase one of the construction on the trail will take place from Agricultural Trail, which loops around the Saddledome, up to 14 Avenue SE.
Completion for that portion of the roadway is expected to last from when construction begins on April 24, until later this year.
Phase two, which will be from 14 Avenue SE to 12 Avenue SE, will be completed in 2024 to coincide with the opening of the new BMO Centre Expansion.
“All of this work that we’ve been announcing and talking about in bringing Calgary in and opening the park to more of Calgary like it was back in the 80s, is really in service of opening the park to more people and more often,” said Thompson.
“We have the amazing work that Calgary Stampede does to bring multiple visitors not only to the convention center, but also to the park for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but there’s also some opportunities for concerts and events, and we’ve got our partners at Calgary Sport and Entertainment.”
Drivers looking to access Stampede Park from the north will be able to access it via Agricultural Trail throughout the construction, with cycle and pedestrian routes still accessible through the park directly on Stampede Trail.
A full list of road closures and detours will be updated live on CMLC’s website.
A vision for more year-round access to Stampede Park
Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley said that the Stampede was very excited about what the redevelopment of Stampede Trail would mean for guests visiting the Culture and Entertainment District.
“This beautifully paved roadway that is lined with retail and restaurants will provide a very vibrant entry point into Stampede Park, and create a tremendous atmosphere for those here in the community to come and enjoy,” he said.
The roadway will consist of three flex lanes, which will increase access into the park and out of the park during high-volume events, make pedestrian and cyclist access between 12 Avenue SE and 17 Avenue SE more accessible, and be appropriate for pedestrian-only special events.
“With the rolled curbs and the ability to close the lanes to traffic at 12th Avenue, it allows us to to create a truly vibrant and festive atmosphere—the type of atmosphere that the Calgary Stampede is known for, and create that on a year-round basis,” Cowley said.
Cowley said that the completion of the trail would also make for a more inviting entrance for the 10 days of Stampede in July.
“It will definitely provide a much more welcoming entry point, but it will also provide a festive atmosphere during the Calgary Stampede,” he said.
There will be additional retail opportunities along the trail, which will be situated at the Calgary Stampede Hotel along 12 Avenue SE, would be a benefit for Calgarians and to convention goers.
“I think anytime you can create an atmosphere surrounding a convention center, which would include restaurant, retail, and hotels, it’s definitely a selling point for those considering Calgary as a convention destination,” Cowley said.
All day vibrancy
Thompson said that the retail mix they are looking for in the development was one that would add vibrancy to the area.
“We’re looking for retail that’s vibrant and active, and so what that is is going to come together from our partners and what people bring forward,” she said.
“But what we envision in the hotel partnership that we announced recently, one of the ideas is at-grade retail restaurants that also span different time zones, too.”
That time zone activation she said would include more than just evening attendance, but all-day activation for breakfast and lunch as well.
As for the Stampede, Cowley said that the completion of Stampede Trail in 2024 would be a big milestone for the organization, as it would coincide with the completion of the BMO Centre Expansion, the SAM Centre, and the Victoria Park LRT Station rebuild.
“We also of course have the 17th Avenue extension opening up to vehicle traffic in 2024,” he said.