Schutze

A Giant Ferris Wheel Next to JFK Memorial? Great Idea. Finally We'll Be World-Class!

Big disagreement. My house. Now. Ferris wheel next to Kennedy memorial. Wife, a Dallas native. Self, a carpetbagger. Wife, tasteful. Self, not.

Wife says Yankees will criticize city. Self say, so what? Self know more about Yankees than wife. Screw Yankees. It's been almost 50 years. Can't Dallas have a little fun?

Great City Attractions, an English company, has proposed building a 174-feet tall "observation wheel" next to the Kennedy Memorial Plaza by the Old Red Courthouse downtown. Watch the Dallas County Commissioners Court discuss it here, toward the end.

Big. Not huge.

For comparison, the Texas Star at Fair Park, at 212 feet, was still the tallest in the North America, last time I checked. A wheel has been proposed in Orlando at 425 feet, and I think Las Vegas is talking about one at, you know, like 50,000 feet or something, in orbit, but for now the Texas Star rules.

To my great disappointment, the company behind the scheme for downtown Dallas is not the one I first thought it was, Great Wheel Corporation, developers of the Singapore Flyer, the world's tallest wheel at 541 feet. That company has been embroiled in all sorts of juicy boardroom battling including accusations of embezzlement and other carny-esque derring-do. Had they been the people behind the Dallas project, we could have had a really neat attraction downtown plus all sorts of attendant scandal -- definitely a win-win for me.



No such luck, at least not for me, at least so far. I scoured the web for bad news about this company, Great City Attractions, and came up with zip. Clean as a whistle. What're you gonna do? Sometimes we have to accept reality, although, as I like to say, "Not without a fight."

My wife thinks the idea of a Ferris wheel next to the assassination memorial is obscene, crass and tasteless. I'm O.K. with that. But I did talk today to Bob Minick of Minick Associates, a Dallas-based company internationally known and respected in the amusement park industry, and he did offer a caution. "It's a good company," Minick said of Great City Attractions. "They're putting up a very good wheel."

But Minick said he wonders if downtown Dallas offers the kind of traffic needed to make money on a Ferris wheel. "If you were going to put in wheel in the U.S.," he said, "I would look at New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami. You have to go where the tourism is."

Hey, wait. I have an idea. You know what they really need to make this thing go? They need a consultant. Damned right! I might be able to make this wheel turn my way after all.

Sweetheart, get Commissioner Price on the horn, willya? (I'm talking in a carnival voice.)

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze