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Hoberman arch installed at the U.

It's part of Olympic Cauldron Park, which is set to open Aug. 22

Published: Thursday, July 31 2003 3:35 p.m. MDT

The creative director of the 2002 Winter Games nervously watched Wednesday as the massive Hoberman arch was hoisted into its permanent location at the University of Utah's new Olympic park.

"I'm just a little worried," Scott Givens, now part of the team planning the park, said as the 38,000-pound structure was raised ever-so-slowly by three cranes in a parking lot outside Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Givens was able to breathe a sigh of relief once the arch was firmly in place, about 15 minutes after the effort began. The 72-foot-wide and 36-foot-high arch served as a mechanical "curtain" during the Games for the temporary Medals Plaza stage downtown.

Although it opens and closes much like the iris of an eye, the arch will remain static at the park. It will be illuminated by a nightly light show and surrounded by water; visitors will be able to walk across a bridge beneath the arch's 96 metal-edged panels.

The arch will be one of the attractions at the Olympic Cauldron Park under construction south of the stadium. The caldron was installed earlier this year, and construction is nearly completed on a theater that will show a 10-minute film about the Games.

The park is scheduled to open Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. The caldron, which burned throughout the Games inside Rice-Eccles Stadium, will be relit the night before, but details of that ceremony have yet to be announced.

All that's known is that there won't be any fireworks. The now-defunct Salt Lake Organizing Committee staged a spectacular — and expensive — show at the park site to commemorate the first anniversary of the Games on Feb. 8.

SLOC President Fraser Bullock said the park fulfills the organizing committee's "vision to leave a lasting legacy of the Games." Organizers had initially proposed building a separate park featuring the arch downtown, but Salt Lake leaders couldn't agree on a location.

Givens said no other Olympic city has done so much to commemorate having hosted an Olympics. "This is probably the most elaborate single site a city has done," Givens said during a tour of the park. "This is one of a kind, to our knowledge, in the world."

SLOC put up some $12 million to build the park on four acres donated by the U. The park becomes the responsibility of the university once it opens, but U. President Bernie Machen said the park should make enough money to cover costs.

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Admission will be free, although there will be a $3 charge for adults ($2 for children) to watch the film. SLOC is contributing $750,000 toward an endowment to maintain the caldron, plus another $50,000 for operating costs.

Organizers expect at least 100,000 people will visit the park annually, most of them from out-of-town. They'll be guided by docents, like X-ray technician Randy Vollrath, who also served as a Games volunteer.

"I think it's a great legacy," said Vollrath, who brought his 8-year-old son, Scott, to see the arch go up. "It really shows off the pride we all have. . . . We're proud of what we did and how well Salt Lake came off."


E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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