Virgin tycoon in talks to create sports facility
Richard Branson is reportedly in talks that could lead to a bid to buy London’s Millennium Dome, the U.K.’s premier exhibition ground for Y2K celebrations.
According to Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the Times, the Virgin tycoon is in discussions with two of the 10 consortia seeking to acquire the dome — essentially an upmarket amusement park — in Greenwich, east London, after the structure’s one-year purpose is spent.
Branson is said to be talking to SportsDome, which hopes to convert the space into a multipurpose sports facility, and OurWorld, which plans to use the dome to showcase health and environmental issues.
A shortlist of those who will be considered for the takeover of the dome is expected next month. Branson’s late entry would be a boost to the process, which has failed to produce any contenders that have caught the British public’s imagination.
The sale of the controversial dome may only bring in $160 million, far short of the $1.2 billion it cost to build.
Branson has just raised $960 million through the sale of 49% of his Virgin Atlantic airline to Singapore Airlines.
A Virgin spokesman, however, cautioned, “Potentially this could be the kind of thing we are interested in, but at this stage we are not actually participating in any of the bids.”
Come New Year’s Eve, the dome will host a party for 15,000 people, including the elite of British society.