Sky Ride nixed at Tulsa State Fair
By John Dobberstein, Senior Editor
Expo Square announced Friday it is eliminating the Sky Ride at the Tulsa State Fair, citing concerns about safety and cost of maintenance.
"The focus on safety is always our top priority,” said Expo Square Chief Operating Officer Amanda Blair. “Currently the ride is in continued need of maintenance and repair. Due to the uniqueness of the ride, this type of specialized service is difficult by to solidify, costly, and a limited number of providers are available in the United States.
“The business decision was made to not operate the ride during the 2021 event, and Expo Square has pursued demo preparations in 2022.”
Blair added that Expo Square staff has “exhausted all options” to safely operate the ride, which has not been functional since 2019.
Expo Square said the Sky Ride was operated by DMC Tulsa from 2015 to 2019. In December 2019, MC officially terminated the agreement, making the decision to no longer oversee the Sky Ride “due to the lack of revenue produced and significant expenses incurred.”
If there is any interest to purchase the Sky Ride, the machine will be for sale on Tulsa County Public Surplus Auction in the near future.
Riding the skyride at the fair is a Tulsa tradition that dates back to 1965. The group "Save Our Skyride Tulsa!" has been vocal about saving the ride and is imploring fans of the ride to contact their Tulsa County commissioners to get support. The group also organized a petition drive.
Robbie Von Roll, one of the owners of the SOST group, says the statement put out by Expo Square Friday is "false," and that the ride benefitted from more than $500,000 in improvements since the Tulsa State Fair purchased it in 2007 from Bell's Amusement Park.
Von Roll said the upgrades included a new control panel and "state of the art" safety features.
Replacement cost for the ride would be $6 million to $8 million, the group notes, which means there likely won't be a replacement.
"Expo Square currently does not have the staff and expertise to maintain and operate the skyride. The solution should not be demolition," SOST's website says. "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."