Tony Blair tried to keep the Millennium Dome open after the end of 2000 despite warnings about the cost, the chairman of the Dome Management Company says.
The Dome cost £2m a week to keep open
David James had told the Millennium Commission it would cost £2m a week to keep open, even if people kept coming.
Mr James had managed to salvage some £25m of the £628m of lottery money laid out and the Commission was determined to keep hold of this money, he said.
Since the Dome closed as the Millennium Experience it has stayed mainly empty.
The prime minister's call to keep the building open came just two weeks before it was due to close, when the buyer had pulled out.
Mr James told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Tony Blair said, 'Look, figures have improved. Why don't we keep it open a few more months and see what happens'. But the Millennium Commission refused."
The building is currently leased by theme park operator Elliot Hall's Capital Entertainment Limited, which is hosting an event called Winter Wonderland 2003.
The event encompasses more traditional attactions than the Dome's former "zones", including a giant big wheel, log flume and inverted "Tsunami" rollercoaster. There is also an ice rink, cartoon cinema and a traditional German winter market.