Spurred on by the combination of problems in the inner city, and negative press due to large layoffs by General Motors
, a combination of politicans
and well-known areas citizens decided to create an attraction in Flint
. This attraction would focus on the automobile
, and supposely attract a million people per year to it, and in the process, to the city.
This attraction was known as Autoworld.
It cost between $70 to $90 million dollars, with half if that money coming from city, state, and federal government agencies. Seven acres of downtown Flint were set aside for this project, which also had involvement from Six Flags.
A big architechural firm was hired to design the building, which when it opened, in 1984, it became the world's largest indoor theme park. There was huge fanfare in the area, and all sorts of events and promotions were done to draw people to it. City and state officials that had supported the project continued to speak out in favor of it, to try and draw more attention, and by extension, more visitors and the money they would bring.
Inside there were some nicely landscaped areas, and multiple exhibits. They covered the history of the automobile, information on how they worked, and the future of the automobile. There were games and rides, and the whole thing was aimed at the entire family. I remember when I went there with a class trip, that I was so amazed because they had these little informational kiosks with screens that reacted to being touched!
The crowds never materialized, never even coming close to the annual million. Somewhere between six months to two years later, it closed. (I can't find a solid date, just conflicting reports)
For over ten years, the building stood there, nearly abandoned. A symbol to the poor state of Flint, and to unresearched expensive attempts to resurrect the flailing city. The company who owned the building continued to pay the maintenance cost of nearly a half a million per year.
Eventually, in 1996, the controversy over what to do with it was ended. The building was demolished, and the land became part of the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.
To this day, residents of Flint still remember Autoworld, and not fondly.