LONDON-According to press reports the UK Government has moved a step closer towards extricating itself from the embarrassing saga of the Millennium Dome. The £750 million ($1.1 billion) attraction has lain empty for almost a year now as two successive purchasers have pulled out of negotiations after being granted exclusivity. Now a new bidder has emerged willing to take a lease on the property to run it as a sports and leisure complex, with housing development on the surrounding land.

The new consortium is made up of Quintain Estates, Lend Lease and Philip Anschutz, owner of the LA Lakers basketball franchise. Under their plans the central area of the dome will be converted into a 20,000-seat indoor stadium to house concerts and sporting events. But unlike previous bidders which had wanted to buy the site outright the new deal is reported to be structured around a 20-year lease.

The massive dome, designed by Richard Rogers, was to have been the centerpiece of Britain’s millennium celebrations and was seen as an essential part of the regeneration of the Greenwich peninsula. However, it only attracted half the expected 12 million visitors, and has continued to be a drain on public funds even after it closed at the end of the year 2000.

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