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Arch from 2002 Olympic Medals Plaza finds new home at SLC airport

Aug 29, 2023, 2:16 PM | Updated: 2:18 pm

The Hoberman Arch from the 2002 Olympics  in Salt Lake City has been installed and signage unveiled...

The Hoberman Arch from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City has been installed and signage unveiled during a news event at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Hoberman Arch, which shined on the world’s stage with medalists during the 2002 Winter Olympics, is back on display. Airport and local officials unveiled the refurbished arch at its new, permanent location at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday.

“The Hoberman Arch is one of the lasting legacies from the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and, hopefully, a lens for us to envision hosting future Winter Games,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “To have the arch permanently placed in an area that will welcome so many people to Salt Lake City is a fitting tribute for such a memorable piece of our history and a reminder of our Olympic spirit.”

Airport officials said the Hoberman Arch was carefully restored by a team of talented and dedicated individuals under the direction of artist Gordon Huether for $3.79 million.

The arch now sits on a 72-foot-wide base structure that is 10 feet to 12 feet high and includes the logos from the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Drivers will see it as they leave the south end of the airport.

“The Hoberman Arch is an iconic element that showcases the athletic success of the 2002 medalists and our accomplishment as a community in hosting the Games,” said Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games President and CEO Fraser Bullock. “It is also a star that guides us in bringing a future Games back to Utah in 2030 or 2034.”

Details about the Hoberman Arch

  • 72′ wide by 36′ high
  • Created for the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City
  • Designed by Chuck Hoberman and inspired by Utah’s natural stone arches
  • Weighs approximately 31,000 pounds
  • Made up of 4,000 individual pieces put together as 96 panels with 13,000 steel rivets

The arch was moved to the Olympic Cauldron Park at the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium after the Olympics, but University of Utah officials said the stadium “was never meant to be a permanent home for the arch.”

Workmen disassemble the Hoberman arch Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, at the University of Utah. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

Talk of expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium after the Utes’ move to the Pac-12 led to discussions between the university and Salt Lake City for a new home for the arch. In 2014, crews disassembled the Hoberman Arch and Salt Lake City agreed to store the pieces until a new home could be found. Nearly three dozen parts of the arch were stolen from a Salt Lake City impound lot later that year.

At least one alternate location was suggested for the arch in 2015 — a park on the north end of the city.

Now, the Hoberman Arch will once again welcome the world to Salt Lake City. This time, it will happen without the medals and pageantry — although some travelers might feel like they’ve earned a gold medal after walking from Concourse B to their luggage.

The Hoberman Arch opened and closed to mark milestones in the 2002 Winter Olympics, including the beginning and the end of the Games, the awarding of Olympic medals and the Paralympic closing ceremony, a press release from the airport read. At the time of its construction, the arch was the largest unfolding structure in the world.

FILE: An acrobatic performance at the Olympic Medals Plaza during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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Arch from 2002 Olympic Medals Plaza finds new home at SLC airport