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Stan Glazer and his Big Wheel.

Kansas City Vetoes Big Wheel's Big Wheel

Stan Glazer is a Kansas City, Missouri, businessman who has twice run for Kansas City mayor. In 2003 he got 43 percent of the vote. In 2007, less than a month before the primary, he unveiled what he felt was a winning idea: a 50-story-tall Ferris Wheel -- the tallest ever built -- to rise on the bank of the Missouri River. It would resemble a paddlewheel of an old-time riverboat, offer unparalleled views of the surrounding region, and revive the city's aging riverfront, which had become a financial and aesthetic blight.

Big Wheel artist concept.

"The port authority had hired some consulting firm back east," he said, "and of course the only thing that they came up with were box buildings and condos. Everything was just boring. I had a vision."

Glazer unveiled his plan on February 6, 2007. The primary was held 22 days later. This time Stan Glazer did not get 43 percent of the vote. He got 2 percent. He came in 10th in a field of 12 candidates.

"I thought that the powers-that-be would swarm to it," he said. Instead, "they really crunched me."

Stan Glazer was not the first to view a big wheel as a vortex to suck in visitors. Since 2001 the 45-story-tall "London Eye" Ferris Wheel on the River Thames has been the most popular tourist attraction in the British Isles, pulling in 10,000 paying customers a day despite that city's reputation for clouds and fog.

Other cities, seeing London's success, have expressed interest in big wheels as well: Moscow, Nanchang, Shanghai, Melbourne, Singapore.

The Voyager company has been lobbying Las Vegas for years to build one 600 feet tall. In January 2007 Voyager unveiled an improved "V2" wheel design that incorporates twin swimming pools into the hub of its 30-story-tall spindle.

"If it's such a bad idea," says Glazer, "why are so many other major cities thinking of doing the same thing?"

Stan Glazer plans to take a week off to rest from his primary defeat, but he insists that, "I'm still really gung-ho about getting the thing done." And if Kansas City, Missouri, isn't interested, then Kansas City, Kansas -- which is just across the state line -- might be.

"If they keep screwin' with me and don't want to do it," says Glazer, "I'll take this idea and go across the river, so to speak" [The two Kansas Citys are separated by a street, not a river]. "The Kaw River runs through that area. We'll put it over there!"


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