London’s O2 arena stands at the pinnacle of live entertainment venues, which is no small feat considering the remarkable history behind it. The 20,000-seat facility, owned and operated by AEG, is a content machine, fueled by the need for a modern, full-scale arena and the insatiable appetite for live music in a world-class market.

Sixteen years ago, apart from the vision of then AEG executive Tim Leiweke and Phil Anschutz, the company’s owner, the concept of building an arena inside an existing structure had its doubters. (Leiweke is now CEO of Oak View Group, the owner of VenuesNow and Pollstar.)...

...A few years after the dome closed, the government issued a proposal to redevelop the property. AEG won the bid to build an arena inside the structure and create a retail and entertainment district surrounding it, all underneath the expansive roofline. The concept had some shaking their heads, including owner’s representative Tim Romani. His firm, Icon Venue Group (now CAA Icon), was AEG’s partner for developing facilities.

“When Tim Leiweke walked me into the Millennium Dome for the first time and told me, ‘Here’s the plan: We’re going to build an arena here,’ I looked at him like he had lost his mind,” Romani said. “But he had complete conviction in it, and Mr. Anschutz did as well. They told me it was going to be the greatest venue ever built, and it turned out to be exactly that.” 

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