Construction of the Calgary Stampede Foundation’s SAM Center officially began with the earth-turning ceremony during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.
The approximately $40 million museum will house and display the cultural heritage of the Calgary Stampede.
In attendance was philanthropist Don Taylor, whose father, Robert Samuel Taylor, is the center’s namesake. Taylor donated $15 million toward the establishment of the museum. The Government of Canada donated over $4.5 million and the Province of Alberta over $5 million.
“A lot of the guests we have who come to Calgary from various parts of the country always refer to the hustle and want to come down and see what’s there,” Taylor said.
“But really for many years the Stampede, except for two weeks a year, was in the parking lot,” he said.
Taylor said he felt like there needed to be a place to showcase Stampede history and a collection of artifacts and stories outside of the show’s 10 days a year.
The SAM center is scheduled to open in late 2023. It will have 30,000 square feet of exhibits, including permanent and temporary exhibits. It will also be the repository for the Calgary Stampede artifact collection. The exterior of the building will feature wraparound seating and spaces designed for outdoor activation and programming.
Architectural firms Diamond Schmitt and FAAS designed the museum to evoke barns throughout Alberta, alongside some of the heritage buildings on the Stampede grounds.
The project took a long time to materialize
Joel Cowley, CEO of the Calgary Stampede, said delays in the groundbreaking stage since the project was announced in 2013 had, in large part, been a cause of the pandemic.
The inauguration itself had been delayed since the beginning of this year due to the spread of Covid-19 in the province.
He said another factor in the delay was the desire to get the financials right before construction.
“I will tell you that the Calgary Stampede Foundation is very careful in how they approach a building project and they don’t start a project until they have all the funding in hand,” Cowley said.
“We’re quite proud of that caution,” he said.
Bringing year-round tourism to the region
Calgary Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Steve McDonough said when the museum is complete, it will help further connect the Stampede to the wider Calgary community in celebration of its more than 100 years of service. western heritage.
“This immersive experience will tell stories of inspiring people in our community who have helped shape the Calgary Stampede and southern Alberta,” he said.
Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois Philip Champagne called the SAM Center a place that would not only share the history of Calgary, but also that of Canada.
“It’s not just the story of a city, it’s not just the story of an event: it’s the story of Canada that we’re going to celebrate,” he said.
“When I think of our country’s heritage, when we think of what defines Canada, what better defines Canada than the greatest outdoor event in the world.
Full details of the SAM Center project, including additional renderings of what the museum will look like when completed, can be found on the Calgary Stampede website.