In 1984, a $70 million theme park opened in Flint, Michigan. "Auto-World" was supposed to draw almost a million visitors per year and help revive a dying inner city.
Sixteen years later, the park is gone. Closed after less than two years of sparse crowds, Auto-World was later demolished.
That's what happens when government tries what only private enterprise can do: Weigh the risks, and make the right economic choice.
Now, despite the Flint debacle, Kalamazoo may be about to put taxpayers on the hook for another theme park. The city has announced plans to build an $80 million dollar "Legacy of Flight" attraction, slated to open in June 2003.
Just like AutoWorld, Kalamazoo expects 840,000 visitors to Legacy of Flight per year. "Build it, and they will come," is apparently the motto for city plannerswho wouldn't need government subsidies if their projects were economically viable.
But they're notand the subsidies prove it. Hundreds of privately funded recreational parks are thriving all over America. If businessmen thought a theme park would make money in Kalamazoo, don't you think they'd be building this one?
For the Mackinac Center, I'm Catherine Martin.