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The BBC's Nick Higham
"Outside the political attacks continued"
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Dome Chief Executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau
"We are going out with a big bang"
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Monday, 1 January, 2001, 16:27 GMT
'Fears grow' for Dome bid
Artists impression of Legacy Plcs plans to develop the Millennium Dome
Legacy wants to turn the Dome into a business park
The government has been told the plans of its preferred Millennium Dome bidder will fail, it has been reported.

The Legacy group, headed by Labour donor Robert Bourne, is in negotiations to turn the Greenwich attraction into a hi-tech business park.

The government expects to sign a contract with the consortium at the end of February.

But there is growing pessimism within the Millennium Commission about the viability of Legacy's proposal, according to The Times.

PY Gerbeau surrounded by Dome staff
Show's over: Dome boss P-Y Gerbeau thanks his staff
And Dome chief executive Pierre-Yves Gerbeau has said he is still interested in heading a bid to continue its use as a visitor attraction.

He believes the two "killers" for the Dome were the over-optimistic visitor forecast of 12 million and near impossibility for such an attraction, only open for one year, to break even.

The inaccuracy of the visitor prediction resulted in the company repeatedly asking the National Lottery for extra funding.

December was the best month for visitors, and with more than 60,000 people attending the Dome's final weekend, the year-long figure reached around the 6.5 million mark - more than twice as many as top attractions such as Alton Towers or Madame Tussauds.

Price of the Dome
Latest estimated total: 854m
February: 60m emergency grant from Millennium Commission
May: 29m from commission
August: 43m advance on Dome sale
September: 47m from commission
But Dome chairman David James said that while he sees no conflict of interest in Mr Gerbeau's bid, he expects the Legacy plan to go ahead.

Mr James also revealed that the Dome is solvent with or without Legacy's 125m bid and that it would have cost 100m if the attraction had shut in early September as it nearly did.

There has also been mounting media speculation that Dome executives could receive major bonus payments.

The contents of the Dome, including turnstiles, hi-tech lighting and sound equipment, will be auctioned between 27 February and 2 March in a sale that could yield up to 10m.

Cherie Blair visits the Dome
Cherie Blair was among the 31,505 visitors on Sunday

A spokesman for the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) said everything not owned by the Dome operator is being removed.

"That includes things in the Journey and Art zones, all the artwork and sculptures and other elements in zones that have been loaned to us."

The rest of the interior that Legacy does not want will be gutted in a second stage of removals between April and June.

But the spokesman stressed: "We won't start the second stage until the contract has been signed with Legacy."

Among the 31,505 visitors who attended the final day were Tony Blair's wife Cherie and their three eldest children, minister in charge of the Dome, Lord Falconer, and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who returned after visiting the attraction on Saturday with his family.

Mrs Blair said it was "fantastic".

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See also:

01 Jan 01 | UK
Music drowns out Dome's end
31 Dec 00 | Newsmakers
P-Y Gerbeau: King of the Dome
19 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Blair pays tribute to Dome staff
20 Nov 00 | Business
Legacy given Dome go-ahead
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