Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park
|Salt Lake 2002|
Olympic Cauldron Park
The cauldron with Rice-Eccles Stadium in the background.
|Location||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Operated by||University of Utah|
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park is a plaza located at the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, Rice-Eccles Stadium was known as Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium and hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The plaza contained a 2002 Winter Olympic museum, the Olympic cauldron, and other memorabilia from the 2002 Olympic Games. As the University of Utah moves forward with stadium expansion and limited space, the future of the park is uncertain. The Hoberman Arch was removed in August 2014, and other portions of the park, such as the film and gallery, have since been removed as well. The cauldron is the only feature from the Olympics remaining in the plaza.
Construction on the park began October 2, 2002 with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by Olympians Shannon Bahrke and Bill Schuffenhauer. The first phase of construction, which included moving the cauldron and getting it operational was completed in February 2003, in time for the one-year anniversary celebration. The second phase, which included the visitors center, was completed later that summer, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held August 22, 2003. The park cost $12 million to construction, and was paid for with revenue and extra surplus from the 2002 Games. Following the park's opening the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) turned over control and maintenance of the park to the University of Utah, giving them a $1 million endowment. The park is open to the public free of charge, with the exception of the film shown in the Visitor Center. Money from ticket sales for the film, along with the original $1 million endowment pays the park's operating costs.
The park has three main highlights: the cauldron, the Hoberman Arch, and the visitor center. The park is also landscaped with fountains, plants, stones, and concrete walls. 17 panels, one for each day of the Olympics, are attached to a fence on the park's southern edge. The interior side of each panel describes the Olympic highlights and events of its particular day, while the exterior sides bear the same images that were wrapped on buildings in downtown Salt Lake City during the Games.
The park contains the cauldron that was lit during the duration of the Games. The Cauldron was designed with the official 2002 Olympic motto Light the Fire Within and the Fire and Ice theme in mind. It was designed to look like an icicle, and was made of glass which allowed the fire to be seen burning within. The actual glass cauldron is 12 feet (3.7 m) high and stands atop a twisting glass and steel support, while the flame within burns at 900 °F (482.2 °C). Together with its support the cauldron stands 72 feet (22 m) tall and was made of 738 individual pieces of glass. Small jets send water down the glass sides of the cauldron, both to keep the glass and metal cooled (so they would not crack or melt), and to give the effect of melting ice. The cauldron was designed by WET Design of Los Angeles, California, its frame built by Arrow Dynamics of Clearfield, Utah, and its glass pieces created by Western Glass of Ogden, Utah. The cauldron's cost was 2 million dollars, and it was unveiled to the public during its original install at Rice-Eccles Stadium on January 8, 2002.
During the Games, the cauldron was installed atop stands at the south-end of the stadium, which allowed it to be seen burning from various points around the Salt Lake Valley. Following the conclusion of the Games, the cauldron moved to the plaza just south of the stadium. It now sits in a reflecting pool, at the center of the park, and is flanked by a V-shaped stone wall. The stones on this wall are engraved with the names of the 2002 medalists, and water cascades down into the reflecting pool from the top of the wall. The cauldron remained operational for a period of time and was lit on special occasions, which included the opening weekend of the 2006 Winter Olympics. During the 10-year anniversary of the Olympics, on February 8, 2012, an attempt was made to light the cauldron, it did light but not on mark and remained lit for only a short period of time. The delayed lighting was blamed on weathered mechanical parts and a lack of maintenance.
The striking Hoberman Arch was originally located at the Olympic Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City. It was used as a mechanical curtain for the Medal Plaza's stage, and opened like the iris of a human eye. When installed at the plaza it would open to reveal a large 3D sculpture of the 2002 Olympic logo and a second Olympic cauldron, known as the Hero's Cauldron. The stage not only hosted award ceremonies, where the athletes received their medals, but was used as a concert venue during the Olympics, hosting many performing artists.
Following the Olympics, plans to install the arch in some kind of park were formulated; many of Salt Lake's citizens wanted the arch to be used in an amphitheater or some kind of concert venue. But because the arch was a symbol of the 2002 Games, the United States Olympic Committee put restrictions on possible future locations for the arch (to protect Olympic sponsors from other businesses who don't have Olympic sponsor contracts). Because of these restrictions, and a lack of consensus among Salt Lake's leaders on where it would go, SLOC announced plans, on December 5, 2002, to install the arch in the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park.
On July 30, 2003, the arch was lifted onto its new permanent base using 3 cranes. It is no longer functional, although it is lit with various colored lights at night. It is located just outside the park's southern fence and is partly open which allows visitors to walk through it. A large plaque is located in the park, just in front of the arch, and gives details on the arches design and use during the Olympics, including photographs.
The arch was removed from the park beginning on August 1, 2014.
The park's visitors center is located at the western edge of the park and consists of an art gallery, theater and video kiosk area. Large bay windows allow the cauldron and arch to be seen by visitors from inside the round glass and sandstone building, which also serves as a ticket office for the nearby stadium.
The center's theater used to play a 10-minute film which looked back on the Games and their success. This film was displayed using three different screens and special effects such as fog and lights. While the remainder of the park is open to the public free, there was a charge to see the center's film.
The film's unique experience began in the dark, while inspiring quotes were played through the theater's sound system. Fog then filled the room, and a single light was displayed on the screens. As that light grew larger it turned out to be the lantern of a skater, known as the "Child of Light", from the opening ceremony. Then skaters were seen whooshing across the three screens, and a voice sung "there's a flame that burns in every heart"; the athletes were then shown entering the stadium for the opening ceremonies. The film continued with highlights from the opening ceremony, the sporting competitions, and ended back at the stadium with the closing ceremony.
The free areas of the center include the art gallery, which contains more than 50 photographs taken during the Games (originally printed in the Games' official commemorative book), and filmed highlights are available for viewing on Interactive kiosks.
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