Love him or hate him, local billionaire Dan Gilbert knows what to say to get Detroit talking. At the Mackinac Policy Conference, an annual convention where Michigan journalists pay $2,000 to endlessly tweet selfies with semi-famous people on a car-free island, Gilbert suggested the idea of an automotive-themed attraction in Detroit.
The Motor City certainly has no shortage of car-themed tourist draws; the Henry Ford, the North American International Auto Show, the Detroit Grand Prix all come to mind. But Gilbert, the Quicken Loans/Cleveland Cavaliers owner who has been pumping millions into revitalizing downtown, says something else is needed.
Gilbert said he has considered hiring an executive from Universal Studios or Disney to help formulate a proposal, but he is not pitching a theme park.
"We have to leverage the sexiness of the car, which we've had a hard time doing in the past," Gilbert said.
I…can't help but to agree. I'm not sure exactly what a car-themed attraction that's not a theme park would look like. I'd think something a little more interactive than the Henry Ford, which has lots of things on display but few things to play around with.
Anyone ever been to the COSI Museum (it's now called the Imagination Station) in Toledo? Maybe you have if you grew up in Michigan and took a field trip there. Remember that one thing where you ride a bike three stories off the ground across a track as wide as the wheels? OK, this has nothing to do with cars but I imagine something like this — a big, whimsical fun emporium — is what Gilbert's getting at.