MIDWAY — A prominent feature of the Olympic cross-country/biathlon venue at Soldier Hollow has begun taking shape with groundbreaking on a $792,000 day lodge.

It is scheduled for completion Dec. 15.

The structure will be a short schuss from the competition building, on target for completion in the middle of August. Both buildings punctuate the landscape already graced by winding trails that have been used in World Cup and national competitions.

And for a splash of color, light poles along Main Street within the last week have sprouted Olympic banners.

"Our venue is coming along very well, we believe," said Bob Mathis, Olympic coordinator for Wasatch County. "We remain true to the plan of not overwhelming the site. I'm excited when the construction is finished for the public to come and see it and play in it."

In addition to playing host to a heavy schedule of World Cup biathlon and cross-country events next winter, Soldier Hollow will be open to the public for recreational and exercise skiing. Fees and schedules for public access still are being discussed.

"We still plan on having a cost around $2 for kids and something under $20, maybe around $14, a day for adults," Mathis said. "But those aren't exact numbers yet."

When visiting skiers do come, they'll be able to enjoy the functions and amenities of the nearly 6,000-square-foot day lodge. These include rentals, ticket office, food, lockers and showers and a large common area.

"It'll be a large open area where people can relax by the fireplace and take in some of the outstanding views of the area," Mathis said.

Facilitating that, the timber-frame, log-accented day lodge construction emphasizes abundant windows and roof angles inviting light and warmth inside.

A full basement also will be finished at a later time, possibly given to classroom instruction, meeting or reception space. Its groundbreaking took place Wednesday.

"With the events we have planned it can be a place to receive team members, officials and others there for the competitions," Mathis said.

The day lodge also will house year-round administrative offices for the venue, which is planned as a site for roller-skiing, in-line skating and other summer activities.

The day lodge is being built with $700,000 allocated by the Legislature and $92,000 from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. It's estimated Soldier Hollow must generate $400,000 a year in revenue to maintain the venue for post-Olympic use.

As for the newly raised banners, they not only added a dash of color, they were good fiscal news for taxpayers.

"The nice thing is those didn't cost them a thing," Mathis said, adding they were purchased by the Main Street Beautification Committee and Midway Boosters.

Though the Games are still a ways away, it's not too early to display the banners, Mathis said. Fade- and weather-proof, they probably will remain up for much of the time between now and the Olympics, though they may yield to seasonal displays for other special community events.

"We put them up just to raise awareness and help the community celebrate that the Olympics, in fact, will be among us sooner than we think," Mathis said.

E-mail: [email protected]