London's Dome in Financial Debate

Doubts if 1.2 Billion-dollar Millennium attraction will break even

London’s Millennium Dome just can’t stay out of the headlines, and the news isn’t good once again. There are big questions as to whether the facility will ever get enough visitors to pay off the price of the billion-dollar facility

The Millennium Dome was put up for the big New Year’s Eve bash, and before the party ever started the Dome was bashed with bad publicity. Some people said it was ugly, and looked like a giant mushroom. It is 160 feet tall with 80,00 square meters of space inside. Others said it was just plain a waste of money and that the events inside were not living up to expectations. The private New Year’s Eve party also attracted more attention when invited guests had to wait hours in lines; many never even had a chance to get a glass of champagne to toast the year 2000.

It cost more than $1.2-Billion (758 million pounds) to build the Millennium Dome and it opened to the public right after the big private New Year’s Eve party. The Dome needs 24,000 visitors a day to break even financially. Right now, organizers are not talking about attendance figures, and that has many people worried.

In Scotland tickets have been on sale since September but a recent survey says only a handful of tickets has been sold. Turned off by high-ticket prices and its south-east location, Scots are staying away from the year- long exhibition. But a Daily Record poll of 105 National Lottery outlets in Scotland which sell the tickets found that they have sold only 22 tickets between them.

But many retailers have said the cost of travelling to London as well as buying tickets for the Dome, which cost pounds 20 for adults or pounds 57 for a family ticket, has helped put people off.

The New Millennium Experience Company's refusal to publish attendance figures made it very difficult to calculate if the project was on track. But an NMEC spokeswoman said the company was "delighted" with the number of people who had been through the turnstiles. The only clue the NMEC gave on attendance figures was to dismiss as a "vast underestimate" reports that only 7,000 people paid to get into the Dome on Friday.

Commercial operators the New Millennium Experience Company, are already reeling from a wave of bad publicity since the much- hyped opening. Sponsors, unhappy at the huge lines for the attractions, are reported to have held back millions of pounds until the problems are sorted out. Source: Press Association Newswire

DATE: 1/14/2000

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