Work is under way on a new park at the University of Utah that will provide a permanent home to the Olympic caldron that burned inside Rice-Eccles Stadium during the 2002 Winter Games.
Monday, Salt Lake Organizing Committee officials offered the local media a sneak peek at the Olympic legacy park being built just outside the south end of the stadium using profits from the Games.
Although the park isn't scheduled to open until next August, the giant glass and steel caldron will be installed in time for an event on Feb. 8 to mark the first anniversary of the opening ceremonies of the Games.
Organizers plan to re-ignite the caldron for the occasion at an event that will feature fireworks and an appearance by former SLOC President Mitt Romney, now the governor-elect of Massachusetts.
The 72-foot caldron will burn for 17 days, just as it did during the Games. SLOC's creative director Scott Givens said it will be lit in a "special way" at the event and will be visible from outside the park. He said 500 East will be closed for the event, which will be held inside the stadium.
Besides the caldron, the park will also feature the Hoberman Arch, the massive mechanical "curtain" used on the stage of the temporary Medals Plaza that was the site of nightly awards ceremonies downtown during the Games.
The organizing committee tried to find a place for the arch in downtown Salt Lake City, most recently at the Gallivan Utah Center, but city officials couldn't agree on a location. SLOC is coming up with another plan for an Olympic legacy downtown.
"We'll have a permanent installation," SLOC President Fraser Bullock said. He has called the U. park, however, the "destination that will tell the story of the Games." Organizers are spending a total of $11 million on Legacy projects.
In addition to the caldron and the arch, the U. park will feature a 6,000-plus square-foot visitors center complete with a state-of-the-art theater where a film about the Games will be shown. The caldron will be surrounded by a 70-foot-square reflecting pond and backed by a wall of water.
Also Monday, Bullock described the final report on the Games that, as reported by the Deseret News, was delivered to leaders of the International Olympic Committee last month in Mexico City. The report is an oversize, 501-page summary of the Games filled with color photographs.
Copies of the report are being distributed to all of the 120-plus members of the IOC, along with the commemorative book from the Games and a collection of computer discs containing technical information aimed at helping future organizing committees.
The final report describes the success of the $1.3 billion Games "as a testament to the power of the human spirit to endure and inspire," citing the challenges faced by organizers, including the bribery scandal surrounding Salt Lake's Olympic bid.
Organizing committees are required by the IOC to produce a final report within two years of the Games' closing ceremonies. SLOC, which is all but out of business, is ahead of schedule.