September 18, 2002 — The Olympics will forever be a part of the University of Utah. The legacy of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games became clear today when the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) pledged funding for three lasting projects. The formal announcement and vote approving the funding came today at SLOC’s final board meeting.
University President Bernie Machen was at the meeting to witness the finalization of negotiations he has conducted with SLOC since learning there would be a surplus of money available for an Olympic legacy. “I am grateful to SLOC, the volunteers and everyone at the University of Utah who helped put on such successful games. It is because of their efforts that this money is available for the creation of projects that will have a lasting impact on the University of Utah and our community.”
The most visible part of the U’s Olympic legacy will be the new Olympic Cauldron Park to be located on the south end of Rice-Eccles Stadium. That arena, where thousands of fans show up each week to cheer the Ute football team, was site of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. The park will consist of the actual cauldron where the Olympic flame burned, surrounded by a fountain, and a visitor’s center with a gallery showing Olympic action, a gift shop and a cafe.
Another lasting legacy for the U from the Olympic games will be the establishment on campus of an IOC accredited laboratory. It will serve as a health and drug-testing center for Olympic athletes. There is only one other such lab in the United States located on the campus of UCLA. During his announcement, SLOC President Fraser Bullock said this lab would ensure Utah remains an important part of the Olympic games. “This IOC accredited lab will help promote fairness in sport and further puts Utah on the map as a winter sports capital.” The lab will be funded with a $500,000 contribution from SLOC, a $500,000 match from the IOC and $1,200,000 from the USOC and several other parties. The University of Utah Health Sciences complex will be responsible for running the lab.
Students at the U may be the biggest winners from helping to host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. SLOC announced it is helping to establish a $1,000,000 scholarship program targeted to U.S. athletes attending Utah schools. The U will be one of the schools benefiting. Bullock says Utah is an ideal place for students to go to school and train to be top winter athletes at the same time. The scholarship program will be funded by a $500,000 contribution from SLOC, which has been matched with a $500,000 contribution from the USOC.
Note: Artist’s renderings of the Olympic Cauldron Park at Rice-Eccles Stadium are available upon request.