But in 1997 in came Tony Blair's Labor Government and expanded the idea greatly and hugely funded the program. Under Blair's leadership the idea took shape and became an architect's dream and challenge. Richard Rogers, the architecture of the Dome cannot be praised less, while the contractors Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing Management of the McAlpine / Laing Joint Venture (MLJV) are given the due credit for perhaps building the largest marquee in the world. The chief engineer Buro Happold built the entire roof in such a way that it weighed even less than the air the building contained. The Dome is the largest exhibition space in the world and is very symbolic of the purpose for which it was built. It has a circumference of 365 meters which represents each day of the year. The Greenwich meridian passes through the western edge of the Dome and it is structured with twelve 100 meters high yellow support towers that represent each month of the year or every hour of the clock. Hence, it is unlike any other self-supporting dome. The dome's light weight along with its non-self-supporting structure gives it its other name, the Millennium Tent. PTFE-coated glass fiber fabric, which is a durable weather-resistant-plastic, is used to build this canopy. The Dome is secured by more than 70km of high-strength steel cable that are suspended from the twelve support-towers. The height of the dome from exactly its centre is 52 meters. This huge structure is ventilated by a ventilation shaft that arises from the Blackwall Tunnel. (Roger Stirk Harbour, 2007.)
The Millennium Dome topped the charts as the most popular tourist attraction in the year 2000 and pushing the 1999 topper Alton Towers to the third spot. But even so the media considered it to be a flop project. There are several factors that triggered this idea. The project was supposed to be badly executed and there was a big question regarding its usage after the end of the exhibition. It was considered that making such huge investments for a project of whose future there is no certainty was a bad idea. It drew heavy cash from the Millennium Commission not only for its construction but also for its maintenance later. The Dome's success primarily depended on the number of visitors it attracted. The media reported that as many as 12 million visitors were expected at the Dome in the year 2000, but only 6.5 million actually visited. This when compared to the number of visitors to the Festival of Britain, which ran from May to September, presented a drastic contrast. All this added to the fact that the chief executive of the New Millennium Experience Company, Jennifer Page, was sacked just one month after the dome was opened to public, created a lot of controversies in the media. It was also suggested by the media that Blair banked heavily on the success of the Dome for his next election campaign.
In the year 2001, Meridian Delta, which is backed by Philip Anschutz, The