06/24/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 12:59 EDT

Calgary Stampede Won't Be Deterred By Flooding, Say Officials

The Calgary Stampede will proceed "come hell or high water," officials have confirmed.

Stampede chairman Bob Thompson says the 101st edition of the Stampede will open as planned July 5.

There were doubts, after widespread flooding from the nearby Elbow River submerged the grounds, racetrack and Saddledome over the weekend.

According to Thompson, nothing has been eliminated from the Stampede agenda, and they expect the Saddledome will be ready for scheduled concerts.

"Throughout our entire history, we have never cancelled a show, despite two wars and a Great Depression — 2013 will be no exception," he said at a news conference Monday. "We will be hosting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, come hell or high water."


Floodwaters reached the eighth row of seats in the lower bowl of the Saddledome arena and submerged the Flames dressing room, team president Ken King said Saturday.

Thompson also confirmed that the Bank of Montreal building on grounds and the Corral building sustained "very little damage," while the Grandstand building took on approximately two feet of water.

Crews have been pumping millions of litres of water from the rodeo grounds, said Thompson.

He says professional cleaning crews are working to scrape mud away and to sanitize buildings.

Stampede CEO Vern Kimball said he understands that many people's homes have been damaged. His own home was flooded.

But he said he believes the Stampede will be a welcome distraction and will provide the city an opportunity to show the world its resiliency.

"We want all of those affected by flooding in southern Alberta to have the opportunity to take a break from these difficult circumstances," Kimball said. "We are going to do whatever it takes to be ready for July 5."

The 101-year-old Stampede features a rodeo, chuckwagon races and a large midway.

Kimball said Stampede setup normally takes three weeks and the flood has cost crews 10 days.

He said they will be working around the clock instead of the usual 16 hours a day.

"The same amount of effort in a much shorter period of time."

No thought has been given to what all that extra work will cost, he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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