Dome Dome is now Moneyzone-on-Thames

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The Independent Online
ORGANISERS OF the Millennium Dome yesterday confounded their critics by announcing that the Greenwich-based exhibition had hit its sponsorship targets and found backers for its religious zone.

In the old Whitehall office of the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine - where the decision to build the Dome in south-east London was first made - the present minister in charge of the pounds 758m project said that the Government had defied the cynics who said it would never get the necessary backing from business.

Flanked by Mr Heseltine, who is now a millennium commissioner, and Sir Robert Ayling, chairman of the New Millennium Experience Commission, Lord Falconer announced that the Dome had attracted pounds 157m of sponsorship, topping its target of pounds 150m.

He also announced a pounds 2m donation from the Laing Family Trust, funded by the construction business, to cover half the cost of the Spirit Zone, which is being renamed the Faith Zone. Another pounds 1m comes from the Hinduja brothers, millionaire businessmen who want the zone to reflect the multiple faiths present in Britain. A further pounds 1m from Christian bodies, including pounds 250,000 from the Jerusalem Trust, will take the total funding for the zone to pounds 4m.

Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was "delighted to hear that there will be a proper emphasis on faith, and the Christian faith in particular, within the Dome". But the Government still does not know if Dr Carey will attend the opening ceremony at the Dome on New Year's Eve.

Mammon, meanwhile, has done ever better for the Dome than religion. The Money Zone, renamed from the Transaction Zone, has raised pounds 12m.