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Tremendous transformation from stage to cauldron: Opening Ceremony

07/20/2011, 6:38pm CDT
By Tiffany Willits

Who would have thought that building a cauldron for opening ceremony would be such an interesting task? For the first time ever, Schwan's USA CUP decided to make the cauldron from scratch. Brandon Radeke, facility operations manager and Paul Erickson, executive director had the idea to build a cauldron that would be owned by the National Sports Center. In the past it had been borrowed from Minnesota Special Olympics.

Dave Brown, campus facility and building engineer, poses by the 400-pound cauldron.

"Paul Erickson had an old satellite dish from a farm that had been sitting there for many years and Brandon Radeke found the legs of the cauldron from old track and field poles. Over the years, three poles remained at our facility and we decided to make use of them," said Dave Brown, campus facility and building engineer.

Dave Brown, campus facility and building engineer, poses by the approximately 400-pound cauldron he helped build from scratch. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Willits.
"Radeke really tried to repurpose old materials. I knew through architecture that triangles were the strongest foundation and that's when I started to weld up the materials and keep the design clean and simple," said Brown. "I didn't realize how much attention was put on the cauldron until time got closer and closer to USA CUP. The cauldron was made in approximately twelve different steps and everyone involved in the process helped with at least one step."

"While I was involved for all twelve steps, someone was always available to help with at least one step," Brown smiled. "Whether it was holding onto the poles for welding or getting a place to strap the materials together, it was a total team effort. Radeke was the dream child and I give him total credit. It was such a clever idea and I have to give him the proper acknowledgment."

The original idea for the cauldron was to weld up a giant soccer ball as the main top piece, but the designers traveled off that path and decided that traditional was better. "Sticking to the simple design of the Olympic torch is the route we decided to go after time," said Brown. "The construction was part-time efforts and I didn't get really focused until a couple weeks before USA CUP. It probably took a total of 10 hours."

"It took about a half-hour to grind the material and weld it together. I would think about the cauldron at night and during random times throughout the day. I wanted it to be strong and safe," said Brown. "I build the burner a certain way to help mix the gas in the air and used a cutting torch across in the burner head to that there was a smooth noise. I enjoyed helping out with the structure of the cauldron and I give more credit to Brandon Radeke for the original idea. It was a total team effort." 

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Tag(s): July 20, 2011