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Big boost for Calgary Stampede Park, Matthews to build hotel

Matthews Southwest Hospitality has been selected to build the first hotel at Calgary's Stampede Park. (Courtesy Stampede Park)
Matthews Southwest Hospitality has been selected to build the first hotel at Calgary's Stampede Park. (Courtesy Stampede Park)

The announcement American-based Matthews Southwest Hospitality will build the first hotel at Stampede Park in Calgary to support the city's BMO Centre expansion could kick-start other development in the area, including other hotel sites on Stampede land.

The new convention centre hotel will bring more than 220 rooms to the market.

The $500-million, 560,000-square-foot BMO Centre expansion, to be completed by 2024, will create the largest convention facility in Western Canada with more than one million square feet of space.

The hotel is being planned as a four or 4.5-diamond boutique lifestyle hotel offering with a minimum of 220 rooms plus four food and beverage offerings.

Expanded amenities will include a fitness centre and 11,000 square feet of meeting space to support the needs of convention-goers and visitors alike.

The prime site also allows for the hotel to be developed with direct interior connection into the BMO Centre.

Matthews' new Calgary Stampede Park hotel

The hotel site is a 31,000-square-foot parcel on the southwest intersection of Stampede Trail and 12 Ave S.E.

It is in a prime location in The Culture + Entertainment District, at the north entrance to Stampede Park and just steps away from the expanded BMO Centre, the Saddledome, Cowboys Casino and dozens of restaurants and retailers.

The BMO Centre Convention Hotel will also front the redeveloped Stampede Trail which, when completed in 2024, will serve as a retail and commercial corridor, a multi-modal connector and, for special events, a pedestrian-only space.

The hotel site is also directly across the street of the proposed future Event Centre – the arena which would replace the Saddledome as the home of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.

“The hotel, from a benefit to the Calgary Stampede, is to support our entry into the conventions business. We do have conventions that come to the BMO Centre now but they’re more regional, maybe national conventions," said Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Cowley in an interview with RENX. "They’re not the big Canadian or international conventions that you think of because we don’t quite have the facilities to compete with those tier one convention destinations.

“But with BMO expansion taking us from 500,000 square feet to over a million square feet, 38 meeting rooms on the second floor of the expansion, two huge ballrooms on the third floor of the expansion, we can play from the facilities standpoint with the major convention destinations in North America.

“Right now, the BMO Centre is largely a trade and consumer show facility, meaning that trade shows and consumer shows come to town, the local population goes to those shows.

"They don’t need hotels. But when you move into the convention business where you truly generate that economic impact . . . you do book hotel nights, you do need hotels and not only do you need hotels but you need hotels in close proximity. And quite frankly we don’t have hotels in close proximity to the BMO Centre right now.”

With major conventions, comes need for hotel rooms

Cowley said the first hotel will serve as a headquarters hub where staff, sponsors and those associated with conventions have a place to stay.

“The next step would be to build enough hotel rooms that, when a major convention comes to Calgary, all of the attendees would be within walking distance of the facility and that particularly holds true during the winter months.”

Cowley said there is additional capacity to be had in Calgary for hotel rooms and the closer to the BMO Centre the more the Stampede will fulfill the true potential of the expanded convention centre and generating economic activity.

“We actually have two additional sites on Stampede Park that would be well-suited for hotel and both conceivably could be connected directly to the BMO Centre which would be ideal,” he explained.

“There is land in the area that doesn’t belong to the Stampede that hopefully there’s some thought being given to developing that as hotel.

"The BMO Centre I think would certainly provide some incentive to do that. Long-term we’ll see what plays out with the Event Centre, but if an Event Centre were to happen and come to this area, it should increase that interest even more.”

Calgary Municipal Land Corp. master plan

In 2018, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation completed the master plan for east Victoria Park that imagines a 20-year vision for Calgary’s Culture + Entertainment district, a vibrant, high-density, mixed-use community that draws on the spirit of entertainment that resides in its DNA, as well as its natural surroundings, said the corporation.

It will result in four million square feet of mixed-use development and more than 8,000 new residents moving into the district.

The priority is to enhance the existing urban fabric — including several heritage buildings, Calgary Stampede Park and the Elbow River — and reshape east Victoria Park as an active, walkable, and accessible community with enhanced connections to adjacent neighbourhoods.

Cowley said there is much opportunity in activating Stampede Park year-round and integrating it into a Culture + Entertainment District.

Kate Thompson, CMLC’s president and CEO, said the new hotel development agreement with Matthews Southwest is a positive indication and an example of how investment in the district, and in projects like the BMO Centre expansion, is generating economic benefit and spurring development.

“A discussion about a hotel in and around Stampede Park has been on the books for decades frankly and the impetus for this hotel was the new convention centre expansion.

"Being the largest convention (centre) in Western Canada, you need to have hotel rooms in and around it. So that was our big motivator and also the big push to industry and markets.

“In the master plan process we did with Calgary Stampede, we identified quite a few different spots for hotels and they’re all still very viable and potential next hotels.”

The $80-million hotel is expected to start construction in 2024;  occupancy will be announced at a later date. The project is in the design, permit and financing stage, and no hotel brand has been identified, though Matthews Southwest will also be the owner.

Matthews Southwest 

Matthews Southwest Hospitality has partnered with award-winning hospitality design architectural firm Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects to design the hotel.

Matthews Southwest is a privately held full-service real estate company established in 1993 that has acquired, built and managed the development of hotel, office, mixed-use retail, residential and industrial developments.

The hospitality division (MSWH) was formed in 2017 to lead the company's growing hospitality investments.

Matthews Southwest has developed iconic projects such as the Bow Tower in Calgary, the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel and the W Element Convention Center Hotel in Philadelphia.

“Our vision for this hotel is to create a unique destination for visitors and the local community alike, and we believe the hotel will play an integral part in the evolution of the Culture + Entertainment District," said Michael Garcia, president of Matthews Southwest Hospitality, in a statement.

"Our hope is that the hotel will serve as a space locals can call their own and be a place where everyone feels welcome to relax and enjoy with friends and family, whether they’re taking in a show, perusing an art gallery, or simply want to enjoy a staycation.

“And, with its unique upper-upscale amenities, we anticipate the hotel will attract large groups to the BMO Centre and serve as a central gathering place while these groups are in town.”

MSW is comprised of 130 affiliated companies in the United States and 38 in Canada, controls more than $400 million of real estate and currently manages over $2 billion in completed and under-construction projects.

MSWH is headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth and has offices in Lewisville, Texas, Toronto and Dubai.

The company is developing more than eight million square feet of hospitality, office, residential and mixed-use retail developments throughout North America.

Other notable projects under construction include: a resort-style hotel adjacent to the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) campus that is anticipated to open in 2024; the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County convention centre expansion; and the development of the Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel, with expected completion in late 2025.

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