Nobody hawking Olympic pins. No journalists trying to prove Salt Lake City is boring. Not even any bad weather. Just 17 days distilled into eight minutes of Olympic glory.
That's what the Salt Lake Olympic Committee previewed Sunday as a warm-up to the Aug. 22 grand opening of Olympic Cauldron Park at the University of Utah. The park will feature the cauldron itself, the Hoberman Arch and an eight-minute film called "The Fire Within."
SLOC estimates that 100,000 people, most of them tourists, will visit the park annually. Entrance to the park will be free but the film will cost $3 for adults, $2 for children well worth the price if you want to get choked up all over again by the pageantry, triumphs and special effects of the 2002 Winter Games.
The "multimedia/multisensory" experience begins in the dark, with inspiring quotes from folks like Dale Carnegie. Then the fog machine comes on, the screen fills with clouds, and deep in the darkness there shines a single light, a moon that turns out to be the lantern of the skater known as the "Child of Light."
And then, suddenly, there are skaters whooshing across the three screens, and Nita Whitaker's voice is singing "there's a flame that burns in every heart," the athletes are pouring into the stadium for the opening ceremonies and you've got goosebumps even if you planned not to.
The film, and the theater built to show it in, cost $1 million, says Scott Givens, the 2002 Games managing director of creative services. The theater also houses 100 stunning Olympic photos that have been compiled in a commemorative book that will be on sale at the park.
Except for the book, however, there will be no other Olympic merchandise for sale. That's because all those hats and pins and T-shirts with the 2002 Winter Games logo are finally dwindling away and no new ones are being made.
The big draw of the Olympic Cauldron Park is expected to be the cauldron itself, Givens says. But except for the upcoming grand opening weekend, Olympics anniversaries, and the occasion of future Olympic Games and U.S. torch relays, the cauldron will be cold. That's because it can only be lighted by permission from the International Olympic Committee and because it costs $5,000 a day to keep burning.
Installation of the cauldron and the Hoberman Arch the centerpiece of the Olympic Medals Plaza during the Games plus construction of the theater and production of the film cost a total of $12 million, paid for by money left over from the Games and donated by SLOC. Maintenance of the park will be the responsibility of the University of Utah, with funding coming from a $1 million endowment from SLOC and money raised from ticket sales to the film.
The park's grand opening begins Thursday, Aug. 21, with a Legacy Lighting Ceremony at 9 p.m. The park will officially open to the public on Friday, Aug. 22, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. The cauldron will remain lighted until Saturday night, Aug. 23.
After that, the park will be open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park will be closed on Sundays, except during the grand opening weekend, when it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
E-MAIL: [email protected]