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Delta Queen Could Soon Have New Owner

The non-profit group that’s been trying to buy the Delta Queen steamboat and resume river cruises says it’s out of the running for making a deal.Save the Delta Queen spokesperson Vicki Webster says the owner of the paddlewheeler, Ambassador International, has accepted an offer from another bidder, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed.The 85 year old paddlewheeler has been docked as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee since mid-2009 after its annual fire safety exemption was not renewed by a congressional committee.The exemption allowed for overnight excursions with more than 49 passengers.Save the Delta Queen had hoped to buy the vessel for daytime excursions and lobby Congress to restore its exemption for overnight trips.Webster says the group is disbanding."Barring some incredible literal miracle, you know, (if) the other buyer should drop out and we should get back in but I cannot foresee that happening. So there really is no reason for us to exist," she said.Webster says it’s hoped the new owner return the Delta Queen to passenger service.For years the Queen was the Belle of Louisville’s rival in the Kentucky Derby Festival’s annual steamboat race.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.