The O2 is a large entertainment district on the Greenwich peninsula in South East London, England, including an indoor arena, a music club, a Cineworld cinema, an exhibition space, piazzas, bars and restaurants. It was built largely within the former Millennium Dome, a large dome-shaped building built to house an exhibition celebrating the turn of the third millennium; as such, The Dome remains a name in common usage for the venue.
It is often referred by various names: the O2 Dome; the O2 Centre or The O2 Arena, which properly refers to a smaller indoor arena within The O2. Naming rights to the district were purchased by O2 plc from its developers, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), during the development of the district. AEG owns the long-term lease on the O2 Arena and surrounding leisure space.
The dome-shaped building, which now houses The O2’s Entertainment Avenue and arena, was originally constructed as the Millennium Dome and housed the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition to celebrate the start of the third millennium. The exhibition opened to the public on 1 January 2000 and ran until 31 December 2000; however, the project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy and it did not attract the number of visitors anticipated, leading to recurring financial problems. In popular usage, the dome canopy is often still called The Dome, reflecting the substantial, and often adverse, publicity given to its building in the late 20th century.
The venue, rebranded The O2, was reopened to the public on 24 June 2007 with a concert by Bon Jovi in the arena. The O2 celebrated its first year with a book, including a double page picture of Elton John from his September 2007 Red Piano show. Prior to this reopening, other events took place, including a soft opening for residents of the area to explore the entertainment district and an opening for staff called “The O2 Premiere” which featured Peter Kay, Tom Jones, Kaiser Chiefs and Basement Jaxx. An event called “Out of the Blue” featuring circus acts also took place on the day of the public opening, as part of the Greenwich Festival. Michael Jackson was preparing for a sell out series of 50 shows at the O2, due to take place 13 July 2009 – 6 March 2010, when he died of cardiac arrest.
London, SE10 0DX