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News: McDonald's sponsors Dome's performance areas

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Towns and cities from around the uk are to stage their own events inside the Millennium Dome in a 500-seat 'Our Town' performance area designed by Richard Rogers Partnership and sponsored by McDonald's.

The scheme was unveiled last week along with the more headline-grabbing Body Zone by Branson Coates, sponsored by Boots, and new details on other sponsors such as gec and British Aerospace, whose names, controversially, will be associated with Zaha Hadid's Mind Zone (aj 26.11.98).

The 'Our Town Story' is intended to celebrate the diversity of the uk and 'cut across geographical, cultural and generational boundaries'. Education authorities are to decide how to plan and deliver their contributions. McDonald's will be associated with the performance area, an area for display materials and a designated space for audience participation.

With less than 400 days to go to the main event, nmec non-executive director Michael Grade categorically denied that the Experience would be a 'trade fair', but an 'incredibly exciting project' with 'intellectual rigour'. He also said the schedule was 'absolutely ahead of where we needed to be', despite mounting concerns about whether the Jubilee Line Extension link will be ready on time.

nmec chief executive Jennie Page said there would be 30 cafes and restaurants inside the Dome, and that the 31m-high, 6400m2 Baby Dome - whose architect is still to be announced -would include two cinemas celebrating the 'British sense of humour' and be sponsored by Sky. The nmec added that architects Muf and Bentheim were still under contract and that it was looking to involve them in the project.

Foundation work on the zones has begun, the steel has been ordered and prefabrication has started off site. Asked about how long the Dome would be open, Page said the objective was to celebrate the year 2000 so it would stay open for 366 days - 2000 is a leap year.

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