There’s going to be significant construction in Stampede Park until at least 2027 (depending on the Green Line)
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
Have you (or a friend) ever renovated a house, condo or apartment? It’s quite the process. There’s noise. There’s mess. There’s construction. It can be a gigantic inconvenience and disruption to your day-to-day life during the active renovation piece of things. But the hope is at the end, the pain is worth it and you have a product at the end that’s so much better than what you started with.
Friends, Stampede Park – the heart of the city’s nascent culture and entertainment district – is conceived as Calgary’s living room. And it’s going to be undergoing quite the overhaul between now and at least 2027, and probably longer depending on the Green Line LRT project.
There’s a lot of stuff happening in the area in and around the Saddledome, so it’s worth walking through what’s going on both now and in the future.
- Sam Centre: Located just northeast of the Saddledome, on the eastern edge of Stampede Park, the Sam Centre is the key piece of the youth campus. It’s part community centre, part museum. It’s slated to be completed before the end of 2023.
- Victoria Park LRT station renovation: On the west edge of Stampede Park, the Victoria Park LRT station has undergone a multi-year teardown and rebuild. Previously an awkward island, isolated from everything else, that required stairs, escalators or elevators to reach, now it’s accessible at ground level. It’s expected to be completed before the end of 2023.
- Stampede Trail redevelopment (between 17th Avenue and 14th Avenue): The road formerly known as Olympic Way is undergoing an overhaul. The idea is rather than being a road primarily for traffic that events are occasionally crammed onto, it’ll be more mixed-use – and more useful as a festival street and gathering area than the old version. The first half of the redevelopment, right in front of the ‘Dome, is expected to be completed before the end of 2023.
- BMO Centre expansion: The big construction project in Stampede Park is hard to miss: it’s a gigantic expansion of the existing BMO Centre, featuring all sorts of fun bells and whistles – including a gigantic fireplace in the main entrance hall. It’s expected to be finished in time for Stampede 2024.
- 17th Avenue extension: So… remember how 17th Avenue used to go east towards Macleod Trail and then hit… that big awkward wall on the west edge of Stampede Park? Well, the wall is gone and 17th Avenue is going to run into Stampede Park and connect with Stampede Trail in front of the new BMO Centre’s main entrance. (Like Stampede Trail, the 17th Avenue extension is meant more as a mixed-used connector that gets cars and people around the area rather than just road for cars that other stuff happens on.) It’s expected to open in tandem with the BMO Centre expansion in time for Stampede 2024.
- Green Line utility relocation: Not limited to Stampede Park’s vicinity, but a general east downtown and Beltline phenomenon, various holes are being dug so that utilities can be moved out of the way in advance of the tunnelling efforts required to build the Green Line LRT expansion. The Stampede Park work is happening on 12th Avenue (between 5th and 6th Streets), 11th Avenue (between Stampede Trail and 5th Street), and Stampede Trail (between the CPR underpass and 12th Avenue).
Essentially, everything currently happening will be finished by Stampede 2024.
- 5th Street utility work (and creating 5A Street): The original arena plan called for a 7.2 acre lot bounded by Stampede Trail, 12th Avenue, 5th Street and 14th Avenue. The new arena plan calls for a 10 acre lot now bounded by 5A Street on the east, which didn’t exist before. So utilities already located underneath 5th Street need to be moved and 5A Street created to expand the lot – and ensure utilities are accessible and not trapped under a building. The timing of this work could start as early as November, but that probably depends on what happens with the utility work happening elsewhere in the surrounding areas. (Most of the other utility work related to the arena has already happened.)
- Stampede Trail redevelopment (north of 14th Avenue): Phase two of the Stampede Trail work is expected to happen next year, starting after the Stampede and continuing until the end of 2024. Conceptually and logistically, Stampede Park needs to have a north-south road accessible at any given time, so the 5th Street/5A Street work will probably need to be fully done before this gets going.
- The new arena: There’s a lot of work to be done on this, and we’ve discussed this already (and will continue to). Based on all the other stuff going on, and the disruption this will cause, most likely Stampede 2024 will try to be kept construction-free… and then the arena work gets going immediately afterwards. We asked at the press conference and Michael Thompson from the City said they’ll be working as fast as they can. It’s reasonable to expect this project to take somewhere between 2.5 and 3 years to complete, especially based on estimates we had from the prior incarnation of the project.
- Saddledome demolition: Light a candle, because the ‘Dome will be demolished when the new arena opens. Scheduling depends on when the doors open across the street, but keep 2027 in your mind. The arena will be kiboshed, but the parkade will remain.
- 6th Street underpass: Likely the most expensive of the surrounding projects in the area, the 6th Street underpass will go under the CP Rail right-of-way and connect Victoria Park with the East Village, both for cars and people. It’s too early in the process to know precisely when this will be built.
- Green Line LRT construction: Green Line construction is expected to start in 2024, but there’s no publicly-available schedule for what’s happening when. It seems likely that attempts will be made to coincide tunnelling work on the north end of Stampede Park with anything needed for the 6th Street underpass, but we haven’t heard anything definitive. LRT construction will last between five and six years line-wide, but it’s too early to guess when it’ll occur in the Beltline/Stampede Park area.
- River Walk extension: The City’s expanded their river boardwalk system down nearly to Stampede Park, and over the next few years it’s expected to be extended to loop around the east side of the area along the Elbow River. Again, no timelines here yet.
- Public realm improvements on 5A Street, 15th Avenue, 17th Avenue and 25th Avenue: We don’t have a ton of details on this yet, but we’re imaging the idea is to do some sprucing up of several streets in the Stampede Park area to (a) make ’em as nice as the streets that got the big overhauls, like Stampede Trail, and (b) create some uniformity in niceness and theming in the area so that everything looks somewhat similar and coherent. Again, no timelines here yet, but we would imagine it happens near the end of the project – the City timed Stampede Trail work for the end of BMO Centre construction, so this feels consistent with that.
And this is just the stuff that’s been definitively announced. There’s expected to be a hotel built east of the casino and north of BMO Centre, and the notion is that cool stuff being built and opening in the area will attract other cool stuff being built.
The living room of the city is going to be a bit of a mess for the next several years. But the hope is when the proverbial (and literal) dust settles in 2027, the area is pretty cool and everybody will want to hang out there.
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