Work is now 16 weeks in to the 98 week project inside the structure previously known as the Dome. Most of the 'cores' of the Arena itself have been erected and it is understood that around 300 workmen are now to be found regularly involved in construction work on the new Arena and first-level 'raft' area located around the Blackwall Tunnel ventilation shaft which it is hoped will eventually form the base of the proposed casino facility. The roof of the O2 Arena is apparently being constructed on the floor. It will then be jacked up in to position when complete. This is apparently the largest structure ever to be raised in to position in this way. As well as the Arena and 160,000 sq. m. second-level 'raft' located in the vicinity of the Blackwall Tunnel ventilation shaft, the first phase of the work will include a 60,000 sq. m., 2000 seat live music club, an 11-screen cinema, a 70,000 sq. m. Eden Project-style 'biome' housing three floors of exhibition space and a tree-lined boulevard of five retail outlets, 10 restaurants and three nightclubs with an 'electric sky'! Although the Arena itself is due to be completed around March 2007, the official opening is now likely to be delayed a month or so to coincide with completion of most of the Waterfront area and a planned exhibition of Tutankhamun's Treasures.
Phase II of the Waterfront development within the Dome curtilage will involve the development of a further 13,000 sq. m. of space. An adjacent high-rise hotel topped with a revolving 'sky' restaurant is dependent upon a successful bid for a casino in the O2 Waterfront. This will apparently be operated by Sol Kerzner, the millionaire behind South Africa's Sun City, who has already appointed Sir Richard Rogers to develop concepts for the hotel.
The David Beckham Football Academy, built by the Anshutz Entertainment Group on the site of part of the old MEX coach park, is now complete and occupied. The initial opening is planned for the October school half-term, with the first use by Deptford and Greenwich schoolchildren in early November.