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New SkyStar Wheel Gets County Approval

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County is giving the go-ahead for a new and improved SkyStar Wheel at The Banks.Missouri-based SkyStar Wheel will replace the existing 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel with a 200-foot one in the next year.

The 10-year deal will generate funds for several parties with $1 of each $12.50 rider fee being divided three ways: 50 cents to Hamilton County; 25 cents to Banks Development organizations; and 25 cents to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

If the rider fee increases, those fees would increase by the same percentage.

The Freedom Center, under the license agreement, also has the right to use the SkyStar space - Lot 18 - up to six times per year.

Speaking about the partnership, Cincinnati Museum Center and Freedom Center CEO Elizabeth Pierce praised the deal and highlighted the benefits it will provide the Freedom Center.

"I think it's a great collaboration with dollars coming to the Freedom Center, which is an important thing. We're trying to diversify the revenue streams at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center," she says.

"We're excited to have a discussion with them about additional marketing efforts that they would put to bring foot traffic to The Banks."

The license agreement is subject to termination should ridership drop below 200,000 people per year. SkyStar will pay for any improvements needed for the new wheel. The agreement includes the possibility of two five-year extensions.

SkyStar says 300,000 people have taken a spin in the last year.

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.