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Stampede backed for new ag hall

A new agricultural event centre and renewal of existing ag facilities at Calgary’s Stampede Park will get $25 million in provincial funding.

The new facility, the Agrium Western Event Centre, is expected to “complement the existing facility and triple capacity and programming at the site” when it’s completed in 2014, the Alberta government said in a release Thursday.

The new centre is designed to offer a competition arena with seating for over 2,400 spectators, as well as meeting, event and exhibition space and “premium VIP hosting areas” which the province said are in “high demand.”

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“The Agrium Western Event Centre will be a lasting legacy of the Stampede’s centennial,” provincial Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden said Friday. “This is an investment that will support business and agricultural events in Calgary for years to come.”

The renovations to the park’s Agriculture Building, included in the overall project, call for the building’s northwest corner to be removed for the creation of Stampede Trail, leading down to the Elbow River which flows past the park.

The work on the Agriculture Building, a large single-story structure covering much of the park’s agricultural area, will allow for creation of park space and make the entrance area “much more welcoming,” Stampede media relations manager Doug Fraser said Friday.

The building entrance will also include the installation of On The Banks of the Bow, a bronze sculpture of horses crossing a river, for the kickoff of the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary in October, he said.

The park development “ensures agriculture remains at the heart of Calgary and southern Alberta for the next 100 years,” Calgary lawyer and Stampede chairman Mike Casey said in the province’s release.

The total project cost will be $60 million, with the federal government putting up $25 million through its Building Canada Plan and the remaining $10 million to be raised through “corporate and philanthropic partnerships” including Agrium’s contribution, the amount of which wasn’t disclosed.

The Stampede, which ends Sunday, marks its 100th anniversary year in 2012, when it will be held from July 6 to 15.

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