The renovation of the Great Hall at Denver International Airport kicked off on July 12, complete with Mayor Michael Hancock, airport CEO Kim Day and Magic Johnson, an investor in the public-private partnership coordinating the project that's estimated to cost up to $770 million and will reconfigure much of the Jeppesen Terminal.
“As the state’s largest economic engine, we must continue to invest in the airport for both today and tomorrow,” Hancock said at the gathering. “This project will create a terminal for the future, allowing Denver to accommodate its continued growth while competing on the global stage with some of the best airports and cities around the world.”
The project will move security up to the north end of level six, where airline counters once were; changes in airline check-in procedures have reduced the amount of space required for that task. At the same time, it will open up space in the Great Hall, which was not designed for the level of security instituted after 9/11. But the 1.5 million square feet under the iconic tent roof won't be completely open; two-thirds will be reserved for travelers who have already passed through security, and Great Hall Partners will fill that area with new shops and restaurants, up to triple the number of previous vendors.
A new spot for greeting passengers will be installed at the south end of the Great Hall, right by the plaza and the escalator down to the A Line.
Some of the changes have already started, including moving public art, leading to more conspiracy theories. The project is divided into four phases and is estimated to take up to three and a half years.
And by the time it's done, there may finally be a new voice on the airport train.
When the airport opened more than two decades ago, the voices of Jim Green's "Train Call," itself a piece of public art, belonged to Reynelda Muse, Denver's first African-American TV anchor, and radio personality Pete Smythe. But then Muse moved out of town and Smythe moved on to that big microphone in the sky, and in 2007, KUSA anchor Adele Arakawa and Alan Roach, who'd just left his gig as announcer for the Colorado Rockies for a similar spot with the Denver Broncos, replaced them.
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Last year, after Arakawa retired and moved to Phoenix, the airport decided to host a contest to find the next voices for "Train Call"; after all, Roach had already given up his Broncos post to become the announcer for the Vikings in his home state of Minnesota. But even as the contest was announced, airport officials learned that Roach still lived in Colorado, and he fought to keep the gig.
He was successful: In January, the airport announced that Roach and KUSA's Kim Christiansen would be the new (old) voices on the train. But even as the Great Hall renovation begins, Arakawa is still telling riders that "you are delaying the departure of this train."
Not for long, though. According to airport communications veep Stacey Stegman, Roach and Christiansen will enter the studio early next month.
Have any suggestions for the messages they should record, to welcome people to Denver and warn visitors of the construction zone they're about to enter?