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The Olympic Cauldron,  Symbol of the SLC Games - 2002-02-09


The 19th Winter Olympic Games are set to open in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The opening and closing ceremonies at these Olympics will be held at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium, only three kilometers from downtown Salt Lake City. It's the only time the facility will be used during the 2002 Winter Games.

Formerly known as just Rice-Eccles Stadium, it is the property of the University of Utah and normally hosts college football games and concerts. It used to seat 33,000 spectators but after renovations specifically for these Olympics, it now holds about 50,000, including about 10,000 temporary seats.

Most of the tickets for the opening ceremonies cost $885, but some of the added bleacher seats cost $320. Closing ceremonies cost the same. Reports are that ticket scalpers have been getting less than face value.

One of the most recognized symbols of the Olympic games, the Olympic cauldron, will be at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium. The 36-meter tall structure is made of steel and glass and weighs about 18,000 kilograms.

The design centers on the Olympic flame and echoes the Salt Lake 2002 theme, "Light the Fire Within."

Scott Givens, managing director of the organizing committee's creative group, explains the design represents the games' visual identity of fire and ice, a concept that reflects the nature of the Utah landscape.

"The very top part, the top 72 feet [22 meters] of the cauldron, it's a steel column up and then this rotating bit of glass that goes all the way up to the top," says Mr. Givens. "The flame itself is in a bowl, that's a 12 foot [4 meters] tall bowl at the top of the cauldron. And the flame, you'll actually see the flame inside. The flame itself is 24 [8 meters] feet tall, 12 [4 meters] inside the bowl and about 12 outside of the bowl."

Givens says about 80 percent of the residents in the Salt Lake City valley will be able see the Olympic cauldron, as its location is high on a hill, unobstructed.

The Olympic flame will burn for the 17 days of these games, then the cauldron will be used for the Paralympics Winter Games which follow 10 days afterward. After that it will be used as a water sculpture and become a legacy piece for these games.

As for Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium, come September the University of Utah will kick off its opening 2002 season football game there, and the players can consider themselves honored to call an Olympic Stadium their home.

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