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Airport adds Oly eye candy

Centers for law, SLOC, ground travel are set up

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It's beginning to look a lot like Olympics at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

The airport is slowly transforming itself into a non-competitive venue for the 2002 Winter Games.

The airport's look will be similar to the graphic design of downtown Salt Lake City, with large banners throughout the airport, signage wrapped around the sky bridges and a 60-foot tower at the airport exit.

In addition to its Olympic eye candy, the airport has three command centers to help things run smoothly — for law enforcement, SLOC venue operations and ground transportation.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said the ground transportation command center is probably the biggest thing for the airport.

"The (Olympic) traveler is atypical," she said. "We're used to having connecting passengers."

And while the rest of the area is gearing up for big crowds all through the Olympics, the biggest crunch for the airport will come the day after the party is over.

Gann said Feb. 25 will host the largest crowd the airport has ever seen.

"We have 100 percent load on most airlines," she said. "We anticipate long lines."

Airport Team 2002 will be making sure people in those long lines are happy. That team is made up of 90 Department of Airport staffers who will be performing Olympics-related functions.

Gann said the staffers will be making sure people are in the right place and handing out refreshments and SLOC poetry books.

The book, "A World of Poetry," is part of the Olympic Arts Festival and is being distributed free as part of the American Poetry & Literacy Project. It contains poetry on playing, competing and persevering; love and friendship; the beauty of the world; and peace and hope.

There will also be entertainers performing that won't be a big interruption, but more of a distraction, Gann said.

"We're hoping just to carry over a festive atmosphere," she said.

Gann said the airport is also making sure the airlines have as much staff working as needed and that all airport systems and equipment are working properly.

"We've laid the foundation for that day," she said.

E-mail: lculler@desnews.com