Might the new Flames’ arena complex provide such a space?
Heather Lundy, director of marketing and communications at the Telus Convention Centre, said they have lost business due to the size of the current downtown facility. Though she could not provide specific group names of conferences that did not happen in Calgary, Lundy, in an email interview, said that the estimated economic loss between the years 2000 and 2013 is over $250 million.
The exhibition hall at the convention centre is 47,000 square feet and there are multiple other smaller rooms for use. But Lundy doesn’t think that is enough.
“We are just not able to go after the large international markets,” she said. “We would like to see something double the current size that we have,” she added.
The Calgary Flames are planning a pitch to build a new arena, and in other cities new rinks are increasingly becoming multi-use facilities.
New arena aside, the benefits of having a larger convention space are numerous according to Lundy. She said there is research proving that people attending conferences spend more money than tourists. The conventions centre’s 2013 annual report illustrated that people from out of town attending a conference spend an average of $329 per day during the event.
She also believes that having a large convention space could bring international conferences to the city increasing Calgary’s global presence, which aligns with Calgary’s economic development strategies that include “a focus on international reach.”
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