Dome owner's Olympic donation

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Indy Politics

The American billionaire who met John Prescott seven times also played a central role in London's successful campaign to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Philip Anschutz, the owner of the Millennium Dome, donated $1.5m (£820,000) and sent a key lieutenant from his Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to advise the campaign team.

But having bought the Dome with plans to turn it into London's leading concert and sporting venue, AEG was unapologetic about beating the drum for the British capital. Tim Leiwicke, its president and chief executive, told the Los Angeles Times last year: "We had a huge financial bet we were making on the arena and that marketplace, and we needed London to be successful."

Scott Blackmun, AEG's chief operating officer, joined the London delegation to Singapore last July for the decision on the Olympics. The group included Tony Blair, Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, and Lord Coe, chairman of London's Olympic Organising Committee. The 26,000-seat Dome will host basketball and gymnastics in the Games.

Ms Jowell dismissed suggestions about the link between the donation of £820,000 and the application to run a super-casino alongside the Dome. She told Sky News: "The taxpayer was paying for the Dome before Mr Anschutz acquired it.

"He's putting millions and millions of dollars into the Dome to turn it into one of this country's major sporting venues. He supported the Olympic bid and all of us who were associated with the bid welcomed his support."

She said the decision over the siting of the casino had been "deliberately co-ordinated to keep ministers at arm's length".