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Delta Queen could call Cincinnati 'home'

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati is a contender to be the future home of the Delta Queen. Investors met with city and Hamilton County leaders on Friday to discuss an economic development loan which would help bring the vessel back to life.

Chattanooga, Louisville and Sacramento are also competing to be the future home of the Delta Queen, a steamboat that is a U.S. National Historic Landmark

"We are doing everything we can to keep her back on America's rivers where she can again serve in the overnight river cruise service, and hopefully find a new home here in Cincinnati or in one of the other river ports we want to have her," said Cornel Martin, an investor interested in buying and renovating the vessel.

The 285 foot, 176 passenger Delta Queen began its history in Sacramento. Throughout its 85-year history the steamboat has carried passengers on the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers, but in 2008 the vessel was docked for good after congress ended the federal exemption that allowed the vessel to travel the waters.

Currently the steamboat is a hotel in Chattanooga, TN.

Investors say buying the vessel and getting it back up and running comes with a $7 million price tag. 

"That will come from the state, that will come from the county, I think that could come from the city," said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld. "It is in no way a handout. They are asking for an economic development loan to make this viable, so all money would be paid back."

Sittenfeld says having the Delta Queen back in the Queen City would create 171 jobs and bring in $9.3 million per year for the city. 

"There is a lot of support for her here so that bodes well for brining her back home," said Martin. 

The investor group wants to buy the vessel within the next 30 and 60 days. The group will also seek to reinstate the federal exemption which would allow the overnight passenger vessel to once again travel American rivers.

Investors say the goal is to have cruises by June 1, 2014. 

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