From record-breaking beginnings to rumours of a teardown to an invigorated reinvention, THE BIG FOUR has a redemption story that would rival any Hollywood western. Grab some popcorn, sit back, and let us fill you in.
At the time it was built in 1959, the 118,000 square-foot building was somewhat of a breakaway star – it was the largest exhibition building in Canada outside of Toronto, and the only one with a modern split-level design. The building was auspiciously named in honour of the four wealthy Alberta cattlemen – the “Big Four” – who financially backed Guy Weadick’s proposal in 1912 for the first Calgary Stampede. Originally, the lower level housed a 24-sheet curling rink, but that number was doubled the next year to make it the largest curling rink in the world at that time.
Credit: Glenbow Archives
After countless bonspiels, the ice was eventually removed in the lead-up to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. In the years since, THE BIG FOUR has been home to tennis courts, a casino, and various retail and food outlets. As time went on the building faced talk of replacement and the need for repairs after the flood in 2013 damaged the lower level. As recently as a couple of years ago, rumours still swirled about the building’s imminent demise.
Enter the redemption part of the story: like any good cowboy, this building has not seen its last rodeo just yet. The grand opening of The Big Four Roadhouse proves that the space is not only back, but better than ever, and guaranteed to become one of Calgary’s most sought-after event venues as word starts to get out. Located at the crossroads of Macleod Trail and 17th Ave, the new name references the dance halls, taverns, and inns along country roads that were meeting places and sources of refreshment and entertainment back in the days of the building’s original namesakes. The new Roadhouse is meant to offer the same, in a space that’s equal parts western charm and modern convenience.
The 60,000 square feet of event space has capacity for 4,000, or rooms can be split in two via an airwall for smaller events. While the 60-foot x 40-foot permanent stage and in-house sound and lighting system makes it an ideal venue for concerts, the flexible space also has big potential for everything from corporate events, speaker series, and tradeshows, to Christmas parties and after-parties.
Thanks to a pair of double-sided 60-foot bars with 8 bar wells, your guests will never go thirsty, and a specialized reception menu means they won’t be going home hungry either. With unique snacking options like Chili Pepper Infused Potato Chips, a full Salsa & Guacamole Bar with house-fried tortilla chips and made-to-order guacamole, or a mouth-watering Beef Brisket Station with 14-hour smoked Texas beef brisket, it’s fair to say the hardest part of planning your event just might be choosing your menu.
Whatever you’re planning, this comeback kid has the space, the features, and the charm to be just the ticket for your event. We’re pleased to have a site plan drawn up and ready to go, and even more excited to have already booked an event in this new space. Give us a shout, and we’d be happy to arrange a tour, and talk about how we can help with your event. Congrats to our friends at Calgary Stampede on the grand opening of The Big Four Roadhouse – we’re so excited to see this new venue reinvigorate a historic Calgary building, and we can’t wait to be a part of the stories that come next.
Credit: LeBlond Studio