Tulsa Sky Ride may be hauled off to Middle East


By John Dobberstein, Editor

The Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority is expected to consider a bid from a Middle Eastern company Thursday to potentially purchase and the Tulsa Sky Ride and haul it away to an overseas location.

The Authority’s agenda for its meeting includes an action item to "consider, discuss, amend, approve, reject or defer RFP award of the Sky Ride,” and to authorize the chairman “to negotiate, approve, execute and deliver an agreement with GT Amusement Service for the Sky Ride.”

On its website, the Erdil, Iraq-based GT Amusement Service describes itself as a “professional trader in the Middle East for amusement rides and maintenance.”

The TCPFA meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Expo Square Armory Conference Center, 3902 East 15th St. in Tulsa.

The Sentinel sent a number of questions to Expo Square representatives but there was no immediate response. 

TCPFA sought bids in December for an entity to operate the popular ride, which has been mothballed since the State Fair season of 2019. But the county received no formal bidders, although a few vendors inquired about the ride and reportedly balked at the RFP's terms.

This came after The Tulsa Preservation Commission told the county it had concern about the planned auction. In October the Sky Ride has been deemed to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by the Oklahoma Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office.

The Save Our Tulsa Skyride group also unveiled a list of potential solutions to the Skyride's operating future. 

Scotty Martin, a producer who is currently filming a documentary about the history of Bell’s Amusement Park and the community’s effort to save the Von Roll Skyride, said the potential news is disappointing. 

"Our Sky Ride is very rare and very historic. Having it dismantled and moved overseas would not only damage the ride, but Tulsa would lose a treasure," Martin said Wednesday.

A Facebook post by GT Amusement Service on Feb. 12 seemed to imply an acquisition was imminent. The post showed a picture of what appeared to be the Tulsa Sky Ride and stated, “For price and more information please contact us via page inbox or contact us” via WhatsApp or email. The post has since been taken down.

It’s unclear what a sale of the Sky Ride would fetch the county. TCPFA contracted with Rides 4 U to complete an appraisal of the ride but it’s unclear if that has been completed.

“Due to the unique nature of this equipment, and the lack of anything similar changing hands an appraisal has been difficult to obtain,” said TCPFA purchasing agent Jessica Booth during the RFP's bidding process.

Some $375,000 was invested In the Sky Ride between 2015 and 2019 on physical improvements. There may also be expenses related to the demolition and transportation of the equipment if a sale goes through.

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