This probably shouldn't be too surprising - we are heading for a 2020s version of a 1980s entertainment district and have been for a long time. Sure, the convention centre will be bigger and shinier, maybe a new arena that's shinier too if that's ever built - but then what do we have?I agree, I’m already resigned to the fact that the “Culture and Entertainment” district will be a flop. I really don’t see anything that they have built or proposed that would attract people outside of game days/big events. This area will be just as dead as it has always been.
Exactly what's here already - a giant convention centre and a major arena surrounded by parking lots, just new ones rather than old ones. It's all turning out to be rather incremental improvements, rather than any game-changer.
To me, the fundamentals have never changed through any of the Stampede Park projects in the past few decades. Culture and Entertainment District branding, hundreds of millions in investment, all this effort and we didn't even diversify the amenity mix for the events themselves - just a big (now bigger) corporate convention space and maybe a big arena. No new dedicated music venues, no new/different outdoor event capacity built, and apart from arena sports and a 10 day a year rodeo, no new ability to host more/different sporting events either.
We will be getting a fancy 2020s-era redesigned LRT station though - however at the price of reduced rapid transit grade-separation of the LRT so forever we have a slightly slower, slightly less reliable rapid transit transit system that is more prone to collisions and delays here.
Here's the thing - how will the area ever become more complete? The retail on the 17th Ave extension will forever front onto a massive, 95% empty parking lot for the Stampede to use 10 days a year. Despite every project and plan for about 40 years claiming an attempt to create a vibrant "year-round destination" , no plans have ever proposed changing the use here or intensifying south of 17th Avenue. Even if the convention centre had a different ground level design, it's still only half the corridor. Unless the convention centre is packed full daily for years, it's hard to see how there would even be consistent enough activity to support business in the area. Will it be that busy? How busy is the current convention centre?How they didn’t implement any retail or restaurants at all along the entire perimeter of the building is inexcusable. Just piss poor planning and foresight. Even if the area can’t fully support it on opening day, it should have been built regardless and could sit vacant until the area becomes a little more complete.
Perhaps the Beltline will slowly fill in around the park over a few decades there will be more local demand for services and retail. Even if this happens, why would that demand go here? It will always be forever in the back corner, the dead-end of an otherwise healthy and growing urban neighbourhood, not the heart or "year-round" part of it.
Same reason that the Stampede hasn't ever opened a year-round farmers market or year-round agricultural component to it's business - the Stampede is only a brand. It has always been remarkably uninterested in the 24/7/365 functionings of the culture it celebrates. It has so little real day-to-day economic activity - just marketing and a big 10 day party once a year. That's not enough activity to support a steak house.There should have been a restaurant with patio somewhere under the giant arm and another one closer to 17th and Weadickville. Throw in a couple small CRU’s and boom. How no one has ever thought to open a proper BBQ restaurant or upscale steakhouse inside the actual Stampede grounds is beyond me!