Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority Denied Public Input For Saving the Tulsa Skyride
All along, on behalf of the people of Tulsa County and the State of Oklahoma, we have sought to open a dialogue with the fair board (Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority or TCPFA). At every step of the way, the voices of the public were ignored. No effort was ever allowed to develop solutions for Expo Square’s arguments against the skyride. Real solutions are readily available and have been since 2019.
The unelected Expo Square county employees who were pursuing a secret plan for skyride demolition in May 2022 always had easy access to the TCPFA Board to push the anti-skyride agenda. Members of the public had no access to the TCPFA Board. All communications requests to the TCPFA Board were referred to Expo Square, the same people who had already tried to demolish the skyride. We asked for a transparent process that would include industry experts and public input. We didn’t get it.
These are the County Commissioners on the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority Board:
- Kelly Dunkerley 918-596-5010 email@example.com
- Karen Keith 918-596-5016 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stan Sallee 918-596-5020 email@example.com
Contact information is not available for the two appointed Trustees on the TCPFA Board:
- Trustee: Daryl Woodard
- Trustee: Mike Spradling
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The Tulsa Skyride was sold and destroyed without justification
Expo Square had proven options available to keep the skyride going. They rejected them all while doubling down on their set of talking points. If the talking points were valid, then all of the other Von Roll skyrides would have to come down, too. Only Tulsa’s was sacrificed, however, despite easy, known solutions being available.
Expo Square currently does not have the staff and expertise to maintain and operate the skyride. The solution should NOT be removal! There are people with knowledge, experience, and expertise who are willing to step up and work out a solution for skyride funding, maintenance, and operation. This would relieve Expo Square of the burden of the skyride.
The skyride should remain standing while a solution is found. Once destroyed, it will never be back. A new replacement skyride is estimated to cost from six to eight million dollars. That means that there won’t be a replacement.
- Will the Tulsa Skyride Be Forced Out Like Bell’s?
- Tulsa Skyride Outline for Solutions
- OKC Mourns Surprise Demolition of Historic Treasure
- Tulsa Skyride Auction: Planned to Be the End of the Ride?
Riding the skyride at the fair is a Tulsa tradition that dates back to 1965. The skyride is a Tulsa treasure, an underrated gem, that should be preserved. The skyride is in great condition, benefiting from about $500,000 in improvements since the Tulsa State Fair purchased the skyride from Bell’s Amusement Park for $600,000 in 2007. Also in 2007, the State Fair of Texas added a new skyride for $5.5 million. Tulsa’s skyride is of similar length and greater height than the new skyride at the State Fair of Texas.
Reasons for saving the Skyride
There are many reasons for preserving the Tulsa Skyride. Here are some of them.
- The skyride is historic and is a part of Tulsa’s history. It opened in 1965.
- The skyride has been a family tradition at the fair since 1965.
- The skyride provides a unique experience not found anywhere else in Oklahoma or most neighboring states.
- The skyride is a key major attraction at the fair, adding to the variety of experiences that appeal to fairgoers.
- The skyride stands out above the midway, visually dominating the fair — both day and night — in a way that even the Golden Driller cannot.
- The skyride appeals to all ages. It is exceptional in that it is a thrilling ride, yet it is one that grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy together.
- The skyride is “old” in years, but is in like-new condition. The skyride has been well-maintained and has been the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars in safety improvements and upgrades, including a large number of new parts since 2007.
- If this skyride were to be removed, there would be no way to get it back. A new replacement skyride would cost millions with the ride experience being different and likely at a lower height with less impressive views.
- The skyride is a rare, under-appreciated asset that could be leveraged much more to the benefit of the Tulsa State Fair, Tulsa, and Oklahoma.
- This type of skyride, designed and built in Switzerland by Von Roll was first brought to the United States by Walt Disney to Disneyland in 1956. Many more were built all across the USA, including the one in Tulsa. Today only ten Von Roll skyride installations remain in the United States, with Tulsa’s being the only one in the center of the country.
What’s the problem?
Reportedly, the skyride has been experiencing low ridership. In other words, it needs to make more money. This is somewhat surprising news because for years the skyride was touted in the press as the biggest money maker on the midway.
Low ridership does not mean that fairgoers no longer care about riding the skyride. Low ridership often results from unfavorable weather conditions. The skyride has only eleven operating days to make enough money to pay its way for the year. Out of those eleven days, the weekends are the most important for the skyride, especially the first weekend. If weather keeps the skyride closed for significant periods on those weekends, it may not be possible for the skyride to break even for the year.
If wind speeds are too high, the skyride must close. Lightning in the area also means that the skyride must close. Oftentimes, contrary to Oklahoma weather’s reputation for always changing, strong winds may prevail for extended periods during the fair.
To buffer against the weather wildcard, it would help the skyride’s situation to increase ridership during the times when the weather is not a problem. Many things can be done to help with this. And many have been tried. Overall, increasing fair attendance, especially on the slower days will help. Creating a fair experience that entices fairgoers to stay longer at the fair will help, too.
Creative thinking is needed. But solutions for the skyride are surely possible. Let’s look at some ideas for helping the skyride and come up with even more.
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Learn more about why the Tulsa Skyride should be saved.
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