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November 1st, 2009 — Memorabilia
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, City of Flint and civic leaders announced an ambitious plan for the rebirth of Flint, in which nearly $100 million would be invested in building an
amusement theme park called Six Flags’ Autoworld, a gigantic indoor facility dedicated to the history of automobile, a shopping center called Water Street Pavilion (based on New York City’s South Street Seaport), and a Hyatt Regency Hotel & Convention center.
The original idea came from Harding Mott, a son of Charles S. Mott, one of the founding families of General Motors. Harding Mott wanted “a hall of fame” to the automobile to show it’s importance in American Culture. The year was 1969. Fifteen years later, using $25 million in federal, state, and local tax dollars and funds, and $35 million from the Mott Foundation, the vision was realized. The problem was the visionaries couldn’t see past their own nose.
At the time AutoworldFlint had 26% unemployment and the writing on the wall – General Motors was packing it up and leaving Flint – was apparent to some, but not many.
But Michael Moore, co-founder and editor of The Michigan Voice, knew what was going on, and saw right through the charade. The concept wasn’t going to work. It was too expensive, the rides weren’t really rides, and it was all too little, too late.
In September of 1984 Moore published what would inadvertently become the screenplay for Roger & Me in a cover story titled Dance Band On The Titanic. There are several passages in the article that are repeated word-for-word in Roger & Me. The article’s title was an homage to a Harry Chapin song (Chapin’s benefit concerts for The Flint Voice were critical. Moore once wrote: “Without Harry, there is no Flint Voice.”)
The article eerily predicts Autoworld will fail miserably. About the only salvaging feature mentioned was the IMAX movie Speed, which was produced exclusively for Autoworld. Moore wonders, however, why you wouldn’t spend an additional $2 dollars and go to Cedar Point.