[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Dome to reopen as concert arena
Inside the O2, the revamped Dome
Artist's impression of the concert arena inside the revamped Dome
The Millennium Dome hopes to be a stage for musicians such as U2 and Sir Paul McCartney when it reopens as an entertainment arena in April 2007.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and mobile phone company O2 say they plan "Europe's finest music venue".

"Britain is the heart and soul of live music. But we are amazed that you do not have a world class facility," AEG's Tim Leiweke told reporters.

The 758m Dome was built as a Millennium project and opened in 2000.

Intended as a symbol of the new, brighter Britain and funded by more than 600m of lottery money, the dome was mired in controversy from its inception.

The brainchild of the Tory party, Tony Blair reputedly overruled widespread scepticism from the new Labour cabinet to stop the project being scrapped when he became Prime Minister in 1997.

The year-long exhibition, the Millennium Experience, failed to secure the predicted 12 million visitors and the attraction rapidly began losing money.

Millennium Dome
The Dome has been mired in controversy almost from the outset

Public indifference joined allegations of poor financial management and marketing which dogged the project until its closure as planned at the end of 2000.

Since then taxpayers have paid out more than 30m to maintain the Dome, with businesses unwilling to take over the venue.

AEG, part of consortium involved in the redevelopment of the Greenwich Peninsula, signed an agreement to take over the lease of the Dome with Greenwich Council in February 2004.

Film premieres

The building will be renamed The O2 and has been redesigned to feature a British music hall of fame, a Jazz and Blues street, an 1,800-seat theatre, and a 2,200-capacity music club alongside restaurants, bars and an outdoor arena and piazza.

The 23,000-capacity indoor arena aims to host up to 150 music, entertainment and sports events in its first year.

"London is the number one live entertainment market in the whole world," said Mr Leiweke. "The O2 will be the finest music venue, the finest arena anywhere in Europe."

It is hoped that film premieres will be staged at the Dome, with 10 cinema screens due to be built on the site.

Sporting events could include boxing, gymnastics, tennis and figure skating, with an ice rink set to be built on site.

The Dome also forms part of the London 2012 Olympic bid and could host the basketball and gymnastic events.


Your comments

A great idea but what about a payback to the Lottery Fund? Or is this another rip-off ?
Rev'd Kenneth Kenrick, Stockport

For my tax monies I'd be happier walking past dozens of new schools full of excited clever children than sitting in some garden shed full of people with nil better to do than pay serious money to listen to mime artists. Greenwich - the beginning of time and the end of time. No bang, just an expensive whimper. Why oh why can't it be struck by lightning.
Leslie, London, UK

Hurrah, fantastic idea! Ok, I know people will just moan in the only way they know how, but a concert hall, restaurants and a club, I will go there! Finally the building will give us what it promised. And remember nearly all landmarks are criticised and then they become a landmark, you just wait!
Stephen Jardine, London

If this can stop the area from falling into further neglect then good luck to it. I go through Greenwich quite a lot and it's a shame to see what was a well kept area fast becoming abandoned.
Carl, Watford

Hurrah, at last it will be used for something people actually want. About time.
Sarah, Sittingbourne, Kent

It's about time the Millennium Dome was used for something productive. It has the potential to be a great venue for music and sporting events alike. I'm looking forward to seeing many events held there in the future. However, I don't think the Dome should be renamed 'The O2', the 'Millennium Dome' has a much better ring to it, but I'm sure they could come up with something better.
Shelley, UK

I think it is the best thing to do with it. Concert venues for large bands are thin on the ground in London since Wembley Stadium closed and the new Wembley probably not being open to anything other than football. Wembley Arena is a barn, as is Earl's Court and the sound quality in all these arenas are no better than a transistor radio in a tin can. Hopefully the new owners will understand what is needed in a modern concert environment (lots of toilets and cheap decent food and drink) and will make this a venue to be proud of. I only hope that the ticket prices are not inflated to help recoup the massive initial losses that they may face.
Paul Williams, Taunton UK

About time too - although why something like this wasn't part of the original set up plan, one can only wonder. Let's hope it's done well and attracts good support from performers and audiences alike.
Claire, Sevenoaks, UK

Fantastic. It is a shame to see such a landmark (good or bad) go to waste. Incidentally I went to the Millennium Dome while it was open and was very surprised how much I enjoyed it! Its content was excellent but most people could not see past the amount of money it cost to build and maintain.
Nicky Butler, Brighton UK

And how much of the huge redevelopment cost is going to be met by the taxpayers?
David, Crewe




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how the inside of the Dome would look



SEE ALSO:
Dome fights to lose elephant tag
25 May 05 |  Entertainment
Dome development is a done deal
18 Jun 04 |  London
Dome 'costs taxpayers over 30m'
20 Jan 04 |  UK Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific