Utah company celebrates opening of Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza

Oct 29, 2021, 9:22 PM

SALT LAKE CITYThe Olympic and Paralympic Flame is lit once again in Salt Lake City.

A ceremony was held Friday afternoon to officially open the new plaza at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where our torch from 2002 is now on display.

Of all the fun things principal architect Brent Tippets of VCBO Architecture has worked on in his career, his latest project of refurbishing the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic and Paralympic Torch is one he was excited and nervous about.

“We didn’t know how to do this,” said Tippets with a laugh. “We were researching and investing at every level, trying to figure out how to accomplish it.”

For starters, when they took the cauldron apart, it was in worse shape than they thought.

“We took the cauldron completely down. We took it off site. We sandblasted it down to bare metal. We took out all the guts and everything in it,” said Tippets. “Then, we started building it back.”

Friday afternoon, the torch Tippets and his team built was officially put on display.

It was moved from the south side of Rice-Eccles Stadium because of the end-zone expansion and placed in a brand-new plaza on the south side of the stadium.

The plaza, called Cauldron Plaza, features displays and information about the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics.

It’s also accessible to anyone at any time.

But the centerpiece of Cauldron Plaza is the Olympic torch itself.

During an event Friday to celebrate the opening of the plaza, lots of people spoke about what the torch meant in 2002.

The Games happened just a few months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron just ignited us, and it was an energy that couldn’t be stopped,” said Catherine Raney Norman, who is a 4-time Olympian and chair of the committee trying to bring the Games back to Utah. “When you went into any stadium, all you heard was ‘USA! USA! USA!’ Something I’ll never forget. And it propelled us to have our most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games ever.”

Many speakers talked about how America was united at that time, and Salt Lake City was the center of it all.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the CEO of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee and says the only reason why it was successful was because of the thousands of volunteers who worked hard.

“It’s an amazing thing to watch what happens when an organizing committee is completely committed to one single goal — a successful Olympic games,” said Romney.

The torch was also lit Friday and will stay lit until 10:30 p.m.

It’s a reminder of that big event 20 years ago many people say also put Utah and Salt Lake City on the global map.

“The 2002 Olympics was the greatest party that Utah has ever put on,” said Tippets. “Hopefully, people realize that the flame is still alive.”

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Utah company celebrates opening of Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza