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New SkyStar Wheel Will Be A First In The USA

skystar wheel the banks
Courtesy of Hamilton County
A rendering of the SkyStar space at The Banks, set to open in March 2021.

You have about two weeks left to ride the SkyStar wheel at The Banks. The current wheel is leaving town after March 2 to make way for a new, bigger wheel coming next year.Managing Partner Todd Schneider says installation of a new Ferris wheel is slated to begin in about six months, with an anticipated opening date in March 2021.

"One thing that's unique about this wheel that will be unlike any other wheel in the United States - first of its kind - is that it's a steel cable design instead of heavy steel spokes," Schneider explains. "It gives it a spokeless effect, and with lighting along the ring beams and the gondolas, at some points in time it will look like a suspended 'O' in the skyline."

The new wheel will be 180 feet tall with 30 climate-controlled gondolas. Each ride will last 12-15 minutes and complete four rotations, Schneider says.

"We're going to have a state-of-the-art light show on this," he adds. "This will allow us the ability to do gender reveals which are popular now, a lot of group sales, and corporate events."

The new wheel is designed to be permanent. The current temporary one is heading to San Francisco for the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park.

As WVXU previously reported, SkyStar operators have a 10-year deal with the county. Proceeds will benefit 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 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.

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. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, 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 enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.