The Minister for the Millennium Dome took his arch- critics by surprise when he said a second, smaller dome is to be built alongside the Mother Dome, currently under construction, to house a 6,000-seat auditorium. Junior will be used for shows featuring everything from steel bands to church choirs. Mr Mandelson revealed the plans when he appeared on Breakfast with Frost as part of efforts to win Britain round to the idea of the Dome, before details of the Millennium Experience interior are unveiled tomorrow by the Prime Minister. Beneath the Teflon-coated roof of the main Dome on London's Greenwich peninsula there will be nine "zones", including one for a new game, surfball, a mind zone, with a virtual brain and a zone featuring a 320ft human figure.
There will be all-day spectacular shows in the piazza in the centre of the Dome, and if that leaves guests tired, they can try the rest zone, which has a dream-sequence ride, with visitors lying on beds.
Mr Mandelson may have thought "baby dome" would appeal to sceptics like Lord Hattersley, former Labour deputy leader, who condemned the Dome as a waste of money. After the Millennium Experience ends, the baby dome is likely to compete with the London Arena, on the other side of the Thames. It was also disclosed that at a private meeting last week Mr Mandelson appealed to the Tories to stop knocking the Dome because it might put off sponsors. But it had no effect on the Tory culture spokesman, Francis Maude, who accused Mr Mandelson of fibbing to keep the Tories quiet. Clearly Mr Maude will have to take a term in the "rest zone".
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