Better brush up on your current events: Nuclear testing in India might affect Salt Lake City.
Reconstructors of Rice Stadium plan to put sandstone facing on the stadium's three new towers. The stone is coming from India, and while most of it has arrived or is on its way, exporting the remainder still within India might be blocked by U.S. trade sanctions.And there might be more to see at the stadium than some unfinished towers come 2002. The University of Utah's football stadium is, of course, the site of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Games.
But instead of lighting a single cauldron with the Olympic flame during opening ceremonies, NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol suggested during a recent visit that the network would like to see an unprecedented two cauldrons lit.
One would go atop one of the largest towers so it could be viewed throughout the valley during the 17 days of the Games. The other cauldron would be placed somewhere inside the 50,000-seat stadium.
NBC, which paid a record-breaking $545 million for the broadcast rights to the Games, will have some say over where the sacred Olympic flame burns. But lighting up two cauldrons?
"Everybody wants to have the Olympic flame burn in a position where it gets the widest possible exposure," said Ed Markey, NBC vice president of sports information.
Markey said the idea was just mentioned casually. "It's nothing we are pushing for," he said, adding it might not be approved by the International Olympic Committee anyway.
After all, the tradition-bound IOC takes these things very seriously. The flame itself is lit before each Olympics in a special ceremony in Olympia, Greece, then carried over land and sea to the opening ceremonies.
And the IOC Charter includes a lengthy protocol for lighting the Olympic flame at the Games, including that it "must be placed in a prominent position, clearly visible" inside and, where possible, outside the stadium.
There's no reference, though, to lighting the flame in two places, although the charter does require that the IOC approve the details of the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Salt Lake Organizing Committee seems intrigued by the concept. At least, the managing director of venue development, Grant Thomas, did during a tour on Thursday when he described Ebersol's idea.
As for the effect any sanctions against India would have on the stadium project, Layton Construction project manager Chris Smith said he was confident any problems could be overcome.
"Most of this stuff is already on the water, and some is in customs in L.A.," he said. "I think we'll be all right."
Designers want the facing to look like Utah "Color Country" sandstone, bringing up an obvious question: Why not use Utah sandstone?
"Two reasons," Smith said. "(India stone) is cheaper, and it's a better stone - it's harder and more dense. Some of that sandstone (in southern Utah) you get it wet and you can stick your finger in it."
Believe it or not, the stone will come from the same huge India quarry used for the Taj Mahal, which was built in the 17th century.
The pillars will be faced with blue-gray or slate stone for the first 30 to 40 feet, where the primary construction material is concrete, then red for the rest, where steel girders and glass facing replace the concrete.
The sandstone veneer will be put on all four sides of the two 180-foot-tall west towers, as well as the smaller tower on the stadium's northeast corner.
The idea for the sandstone facing came later in the stadium planning process, after Layton had saved $7 million through changing some aspects of the project. The nearly $1 million for the sandstone (17 semi-truckloads) will come from the savings.
Mayor Deedee Corradini went up in Rice Stadium's press box Thursday and looked down on the ongoing construction from 17 stories up.
Her reaction: "It's fabulous."