CALGARY -- Construction is underway on the $500 million BMO Centre expansion project after crews broke ground Thursday morning.

Pre-construction work has been ongoing for the last two years and the the 560,000 square-foot expansion project on the Stampede grounds near downtown is expected to be completed in 2024.

"The BMO Centre expansion will provide state-of-the-art facilities for community engagement and economic benefit through job creation and tourism," said Steve McDonough, president and chairman of the Calgary Stampede.

"The expansion will anchor Calgary on the international map as a leading convention host, attracting larger conventions and meetings to our province."

Design work was done by three firms — Stantec, Populous and S2 Architecture.

"The building’s innovative design will dramatically transform the Calgary skyline," read a release from the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

"Beyond being significantly larger than the existing BMO Centre offering double the rentable space, the new facility will reflect, inside and out, today’s best practices in convention facility design."

Funding is being split between all three levels of government.

"The Calgary Stampede’s history goes back over 100 years, and it’s wonderful to see ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’ continue to grow and adapt with the times and needs of Calgary, Alberta, and Canada," said Catherine McKenna, federal minister of infrastructure and communities.

"Today’s groundbreaking is the next step in this important project which will create good jobs and reinforce Calgary’s position as a top convention destination. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities."

When complete, the BMO Centre will be the largest convention facility in western Canada.

"This is an important step in our economic recovery, and demonstrates the optimism, hard work, vision and entrepreneurial spirit that makes Calgary the heart of the west," said Premier Jason Kenney.

The work coincides with other major projects underway in the area, including the 17th Avenue S.E. extension, Victoria Park/Stampede LRT station improvements, a revamped Stampede Trail retail corridor and the new arena.

"I’m so pleased to see the BMO Centre expansion progress," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "We are solidifying our role as the ultimate host city, while creating new jobs and economic activity in the creation of a vibrant Culture and Entertainment District in Victoria Park."