Calgary

Stampede Corral celebrates 60th birthday

An important piece of Calgary's history is quietly celebrating its 60th birthday this month.
Calgary's Stampede Corral, at one point the biggest Canadian arena west of Toronto, is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. ((CBC))

An important piece of Calgary's history is quietly celebrating its 60th birthday this month.

The Stampede Corral opened in December 1950, with the first puck drop in the arena on Boxing Day that year. 

While it no longer has a major tenant, the arena continues to hold a spot in the city's sporting and cultural landscape. 

"This venerable lady is going to be with us pretty much as it is for as long as we can keep it going," said Doug Fraser, spokesman for the Calgary Stampede, which operates the facility. "The building has brought many, many memories to people in Calgary and southern Alberta."

The city-owned Stampede Corral cost between $1.25 and $1.5 million to build. Designed as a home for the Calgary Stampeders hockey club, it was the largest Canadian arena west of Toronto at the time of its construction.

The arena has seen many teams come and go over the years, as well as trade shows, figure skating competitions, concerts and royal visits.

It seems almost impossible now, but for a few seasons in the 1980s, the cozy 7,000-seat facility was home to the Calgary Flames before the Saddledome was built.

Thanks to recent upgrades to the Corral's roof and boiler system, it has a promising future. The Corral has found renewed life as a concert venue, hosting performances from bands like Arcade Fire and Stone Temple Pilots this fall.

Floyd Aberle worked in the Corral for more than 30 years.

"Grand old building. Love this building," Aberle said. "When it was built, it was built to last, and it's showing that today."

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