The paper is an analysis of one of the most controversial millennium projects of 2000; the Millennium Dome. It was built to celebrate the new millennium by capturing essential elements, however, most of the anticipated benefits did not bear fruit as it did not generate enough income.
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The Millennium Dome is a Dome-shaped building that is white and the biggest of its kind in the world. Experts assert that it is approximately three hundred and sixty-five meters wide and one hundred meters high. This Dome is also made up of glass fiber fabrics thus making it resistant to the elements (Millennium Commission, 2002).
The concept of the Millennium Dome began as far back as 1994 when the then Prime Minister John Major suggested the celebration of the new millennium through the creation of a large dome-shaped building. In the next year, the building process of this structure was approved by a group of parliamentarians. In 1997, the Deputy Prime minister requested the serving Prime Minister who was Tony Blair to back that project. However, he refused to do so. Shortly after (in that same year) a company known as New Millennium Experience Co. was formed to manage the creation of this Dome. This company was convinced that the project would be solid enough to run itself and that there was no need to have a backup marketing strategy if the actual product failed to pick up.
Still, in that same year, several cabinet ministers from the labor party wanted to terminate this project but one particular minister – Mandelson suggested an amount of approximately five hundred and eighty million pounds for the project which won approval from the concerned parties. In that same year and the same month, concerns started being raised by a commission about the suitability of the business plan. At that time, the chief executive of the project team asserted that the Dome may bring with it several expenses that may not be easily handled. Consequently, he felt that the commission needed to reduce the capacity of the Dome from twelve million visitors to eight million visitors.
In 1998, the company in charge of this project claimed that they would require forty million pounds more than they had forecast. And during the next year, the same company allowed free viewing of the project for school children. This caused substantial losses in revenue as it was estimated that the company would have made about seven million pounds if it had canceled that idea. In mid-1999, the Millennium Dome project team requested more government backing to ensure that there was sufficient cash flow within this particular investment. One month to the end of the millennium i.e. November 1999 saw near exhaustion of the entire four hundred and forty-nine million pound grant as the commission was only left with approximately seven million to operate with. However, the commission pushed on with the assumption that they would recover these costs during the first three months of the new millennium in 2000. However, advance sales in November were not that promising. In December, the Dome project team used up approximately five hundred and eighty-six million pounds.
From 31st December 1999 till 2000, the Dome was open to the public where visitors viewed various exhibits and attractions. For example, there was a place known as the Journey Zone where viewers could learn about the history of transportation in the UK. Others included acrobatic shows as well as Town Stories where different Education Authorities talked about their history (National Audit Office, 2007).
There was a lot of hype surrounding this project and perhaps this could have been the reason behind its failure. Most visitors who attended the Millennium event asserted that they were disappointed with the show. Nonetheless, the Dome’s management claimed that everything that they had planned materialized and that people were expecting to see much more than the project team could offer them. For instance, a top government official had asserted that the fireworks display would coincide with an important number in the universe but most spectators simply saw a few flickers here and there – the publicity surrounding this display had exceeded what could be created by the teams that were responsible for it. Subsequent The Dome failed to meet expectations or targets and revenue streams were simply not sustainable in the first year of its opening. This was the reason why this project was closed for roughly six years as politicians, investors, as well as other stakeholders, kept thinking of what they could do with this huge structure. At some point, it had been written off as a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.
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However, there may be some hope for revival as well as the sustainability of the latter project if recent actions can be depended on. In 2005, an American Based company known as AEG made a plan to revive the Dome by injecting approximately seven million dollars into it. The latter investment entailed reorganizing the Dome into a stadium that could accommodate about twenty thousand members. The stadium was intended on hosting entertainment as well as sporting events. Examples here include the NBA games as well as Disney Ice. This very venue has been booked for the 2012 Olympic Games being held in London. Consequently, one can assert that the project will play an important role in ensuring that London is back on the map again. In this very Dome are several small areas that include restaurant chains as well as cinema complexes consisting of about eleven screens. The Dome project seems to be sustainable under this new management and new name i.e. O2.
There has been some positive feedback concerning the Dome project so far as it had a Bon Jovi concert that had sold out tickets. Several world-famous artists have already performed in this venue or will perform shortly. Figures from the reopening event indicate that it was a success. Nonetheless, now the major challenge for this group is to think of ways in which it can maintain these positive results.
Evidence suggests that AEG is highly capable of this as they have enormous experience in the entertainment and leisure industries. The company now boasts of successfully running the Nokia Times Square theatre; additionally, it possesses seven other investments in the continent of Europe. Besides this AEG management now understands that a structure in itself is not sufficient to generate revenue; instead, it is the service offerings that emanate from such a project. Consequently, one can add that there is a possibility of considerable success in this arena. (Byaley, 2006)
There were several failures in the management and control of this project. Targets made by the concerned company had been too high. Making such a high estimate was a risk in itself because the entire operation of the project as well as the grants and budgetary allocations were all determined or affected by these estimates. Consequently, the entire venture became highly risky as the numbers on the ground were not realistic (Clay & Tobias, 1999).
The project itself cost seven hundred million pounds in construction alone. These amounts were spread out as follows:
- Lottery fund contributions- 400 m pounds
- Commercial contributions- 160 m pounds
- Government subsidies – 120 million pounds
- Operation grants- 47 m Pounds
- Sale advances – 43 m pounds
- Total – 870 million pounds for 2000 alone
These costs have made the Dome project one of the most unsuccessful projects owing to excessive expenditure and minimal returns. Even when the latter project is compared to other Millennium projects in the UK, it can be said that its costs were excessively high while its rewards have been rather minimal. For example, the Edinburgh Dynamic Earth project was a success because it had exceeded its targets by slightly over four hundred thousand visitors. Besides that, the London Tate art gallery met its visitor targets of two million visitors in 2000.
One can assert that the Millennium Dome Project has had some rewards as well. For instance, it has been crucial in preserving several experiences that characterized the past Millennium. It also rehabilitated grounds that were used as waste dump sites for an industrial company. This created space in the congested London area and it also went a long way in reducing pollution. (Smith & Dohn, 2000). Also, the Dome may provide future sports enthusiasts with a large venue to watch the sports of their choice if the plans or rehabilitation will be completed as expected. The same may also be said about entertainment lovers as they will also get a chance to view several events in this very stadium.
Throughout the entire project, it was found that anticipated visitors were much fewer than the estimated ones. For example in the first year of its operations, the commission had expected about twelve million visitors however this number drastically reduced to about ten million shortly after. What could have been labeled as the best period of the Dome i.e. the month of July, targets still offshoot actual respondents by approximately one hundred and twenty visitors.
Aside from the risk in visitors’ numbers, there was also the risk of transport capacity where visitors asserted that they lacked adequate car space and yet the state of public transport was not that good either. The management team chosen to deal with the Dome project lacked sufficient expertise and experience to deal with a structure of such magnitude. They were just not ready for it. Also, the commission had not foreseen the fact that a project of such a nature needed to be the biggest show on earth (or at least close to this) yet the concepts and attractions were quite shallow (National Audit Office, 2007).
The Millennium Dome 2000 was unsuccessful owing to its failure to yield positive returns in the first year of opening. The risks associated with the project had been poorly anticipated and the costs were too high. However, the project was revived in 2005 after it was re-engineered to become an entertainment and sporting complex. These new actions indicate that there may be room for growth and development and that it may be sustainable in the future.
- Millennium Commission. (2002). Millennium Experience.
- National Audit Office. (2007). Winding the NMEC Company. Web.
- Byaley, S. (2006). The Rebirth of the Dome. The Observer. 2006: 4
- Clay, A. & Tobias, J. (1999). Design and construction of the Millennium Dome. Power and Building Services Report 1999(116): 3-6
- Smith, A & Dohn, S. (2000). Sustainability at the Millennium Dome. Membrane Technology Journal 2000(118) 5-8