Lethbridge & District Exhibition celebrates grand opening of transformational $76 million event facility
Lethbridge, Alta. – A new era begins for Lethbridge and Southern Alberta as the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is officially open. On Thursday, two celebrations marked the opening of the 268,000 square foot facility, including a morning pipe offering with the Blackfoot Confederacy and an afternoon ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony, with representatives from the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta, City of Lethbridge, Lethbridge County, and the Blackfoot Confederacy joining Lethbridge & District Exhibition leadership to celebrate the monumental achievement.
“Modern and accessible public gathering spaces are at the heart of communities across the Prairies and contribute to the high quality of life we enjoy. With state-of-the-art digitization and networking spaces overlooking Henderson Lake, this Centre will host a range of events that support jobs and generate sustainable economic activity—from conferences and trade shows to sports and entertainment.”
-The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and Minister of Northern Affairs
More than 20 years in the making, the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre revolutionizes Lethbridge’s ability to host major provincial, national, and international events. With a focus on the agriculture industry, the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre will help shine a spotlight on the unique aspects of Southern Alberta that make it a one-of-a-kind agriculture destination, driving tourism to Southern Alberta, which benefits businesses and organizations across the region. It also continues Lethbridge & District Exhibition’s long tradition of providing a gathering space where the Southern Alberta community can come together to host events and create community memories.
“The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre has the unique opportunity to tell our story on the world stage, highlighting and celebrating our innovative, world-leading agriculture and agri-food industries. I have no doubt this space will be a catalyst for attracting investment into our area and will offer opportunities for our local producers to build international connections and market their products all over the world. At a time when food production matters more than ever, the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre has a key role to play.”
-Rachael Thomas, Member of Parliament for Lethbridge
“Southern Alberta is an agricultural powerhouse that includes producers, processors, researchers, post-secondary institutions, transportation, irrigation districts, and so much more,” says Mike Warkentin, CEO, Lethbridge & District Exhibition. “This facility is truly the hub that connects those spokes – and together we are stronger. The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre will shine a light on the agriculture industry, bring people to our region, and be an economic driver for generations to come. This is where Canadian agriculture grows.”
“Agriculture is part of the backbone of Alberta and the new Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre will honour that. In addition to providing space in the community to celebrate the history of agriculture, it will enable additional tourism opportunities and contribute to economic growth in the area. This new facility will positively impact so many aspects of life in southern Alberta and I’m glad that our government could play a role in building it. I commend all those involved as you celebrate the ribbon-cutting and the success of future events at the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre.”
-Honourable Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta
Construction on the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre began in March 2021, and cost $76.6 million to complete. The facility features a state-of-the-art audio-visual system, 104,000 square feet of trade floor space, four banquet salons, four meeting rooms, and outdoor patio areas, which doubles Lethbridge & District Exhibition’s previous hosting capacity. The project was funded by the Government of Alberta, through Alberta’s Recovery Plan; the City of Lethbridge, which will maintain ownership of the land; Lethbridge County; a $3.5 million federal grant from PrairiesCan; and a 30-year loan secured against the future operations of the facility.
The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is expected to contribute more than $90 million annually to the regional economy and serve as an economic driver of growth for Alberta’s agriculture, agri-food and tourism sectors. The 268,000 square foot facility has already contributed to the region’s economy, with nearly 300,000 hours of trades work going into construction, 100 per cent of which was provided by Alberta contractors. Lethbridge’s Ward Bros. Construction led the construction project, which was designed by DIALOG Architecture, and project managed by MB2 Management.
“The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is for the people of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta,” says Warkentin. “Our region deserves a place to come together, to participate in events, conduct business, learn, and be entertained. Memories and relationships will be made within these walls, and I give credit to multiple iterations of Lethbridge & District Exhibition’s Board of Directors, and every person whose visioning and involvement led to this facility becoming a reality.”
Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre public grand opening
The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is now open for business, and everyone is invited to see all it has to offer. A free public open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12. The building will also be programmed during Whoop-Up Days from Aug. 22 to 26, hosting the Whoop-Up Days Marketplace, the Siksikaitsitapi Pow Wow and Princess Pageant, the Wildlife Festival, and Pure Power Wrestling’s Hot Summer Night. Whoop-Up Days features free admission for the community, fuelled by Gas King.
To book an event or learn more, visit agrifoodhub.ca.
Message From Partners
“The heartbeat of our economy in the south has long been agriculture – farming, ranching and all the supportive industries that go along with it, it’s in our blood. The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre celebrates those accomplishments and magnifies the opportunities to explore and grow them even further. It invites the world to see what we can do and what the possibilities are for the future. It will teach our next generations ‘where food comes from’ and the vital importance of knowing these lessons so that we can protect some of our greatest assets, our land and our water, while furthering reconciliation by beginning to understand our First Nations connection to the land. It will help connect our past to our future so that we can continue to learn the lessons we need to and value what we’ve learned along the way. It is exciting to be here at long last to see a dream become reality and to set the wheels in motion for what could be.”
-Nathan Neudorf, MLA, Lethbridge-East, Minister of Affordability and Utilities
“On behalf of Lethbridge City Council, I want to congratulate everyone at Lethbridge & District Exhibition on the grand opening of this magnificent facility. The 268,000-square-foot Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is truly a marvel – and a world-class amenity – and will be a catalyst to attract new economic development, people and investment to our city and region. We are excited for the future at this incredible facility and look forward to seeing everyone on Exhibition Way.”
-Blaine Hyggen, Mayor of Lethbridge
“I became involved in the redevelopment work of Lethbridge & District Exhibition’s 70 acre site in early 2005. This is a career legacy project for me, and I am in awe as to what this project has evolved into as it has become the new Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre. I am very honoured, and very proud, to have had the opportunity to be part of this dedicated, tireless project team through its many iterations over the years and see this project through to its ultimate completion. We are delivering a world class facility to the City of Lethbridge, to the Province of Alberta, and to Canada.”
-Blair Grier, Project Manager, MB2 Management Ltd.
“This state-of-the-art facility is so much more than just a building; it is a vision, a blank slate of possibility. The knowledge that will be shared on this campus will serve to inform, educate, and inspire. Now more than ever, people want to know where their food comes from; how it is grown, how it ends up on their plate. The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre will be the conduit to connect people to their food. The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is a marquee venue where the world can come together in Southern Alberta.”
-Tory Campbell, Reeve, Lethbridge County
“Ward Bros. is incredibly proud to have been the construction manager for the new Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre. Our entire team is 100 per cent local to the area and will be making use of everything the new facility has to offer. It has been incredible working with Lethbridge & District Exhibition and their partners on this iconic project, and we look forward to continuing the fantastic relationships we have built. Congratulations to everyone involved in this accomplishment.
-Bill Scales, Project Director, Ward Bros. Construction
"The Lethbridge Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre has been 17 years in the making for DIALOG. It started with a simple phone call to review the condition of the existing facilities. A condition assessment, three masterplans, and many meetings later, the vision of the new Agri-Food Hub has come to fruition. While the bricks and mortar of the project is what the community may see, the collaborative process between Lethbridge & District Exhibition, the City of Lethbridge, Ward Bros. Construction and the integrated design team of DIALOG is truly where the success of the project was developed from.”
-Gerry Doering, Partner, DIALOG
Facts About Our Venue
The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre has been over 21 years in the making since the first feasibility study was undertaken in 2002
Groundbreaking took place on March 31, 2001
Grand opening took place on Aug. 10, 2023
Nearly 300,000 hours of trades work went into construction, 100% of which was provided by Alberta contractors
The entire venue is 268,000 square feet (equivalent to 13 NHL sized ice rinks)
The Trade Centre consists of 104,000 square feet of space, divisible into four trade halls
The Convention Centre consists of 13,255 square feet of space, divisible into three banquet salons
The MNP Meeting Centre consists of 4,139 square feet of space, divisible into four meeting rooms
The Lakeview Salon is a 5,931 square foot high-end banquet salon that features a stunning view of Henderson Lake
The Original 16 Lounge & Patio is a casual gathering space, designed in conjunction with Original 16
The total project cost is $75.3 million, just 8.6% over the initial project budget
A total of $9.7 million in project savings were found during construction, without sacrificing venue functionality
Funding was provided by:
Government of Alberta - $27.8 million
City of Lethbridge - $25 million
Lethbridge & District Exhibition - $17.8 million secured loan
Government of Canada (Prairies Economic Development Canada) - $3.5 million
Lethbridge County - $2 million
A total of 225 trees and a gazebo were harvested from the site of the former Henderson Lake campground and turned into 10,000 board feet of lumber which were used to build custom furniture and the main staircase
A total of 225 trees will be planted as part of the venue’s landscaping to replace the trees that were harvested
Wood bleachers from the historic South Pavilion which hosted concerts, agriculture shows, Remembrance Day ceremonies, sports events, and much more, were repurposed into custom-made seating throughout the venue’s corridors
A fireplace feature (made from LED lights and water vapour) in the lobby pays tribute to the 1925 fire that destroyed the original Lethbridge & District Exhibition building
A total of 12,000 square feet of kitchen and culinary space
Culinary service provided in partnership with Levy Convention Centres Canada
Ability to serve 1,500 plated meals, three times a day
State-of-the-art audio/visual system made possible through $3.5 million grant from Prairies Economic Development Canada
Featuring plug-and-play technology, each of the more than 60 screens in the venue can be programmed individually or simultaneously, creating a user-friendly experience
The main lobby video screen is 32 feet side and 9 feet high