10 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

The Millennium Dome
The Millennium Dome was a white elephant for the British government but became a cash cow for its new owners AEG Entertainments. © Derek James Seaward/Corbis

Perhaps as close as one gets to a literal white elephant, this white, domed behemoth, built to house a celebration for the new millennium, became an embarrassing eyesore for many Londoners.

The dome was controversial from its inception in the mid-1990s. Costs rose throughout the planning and construction phases, with the British government regularly disbursing more money than planned to the builders. In the end, it cost $1.1 billion (789 million pounds) to build, versus a budget of 758 million pounds. Worse, with ticket sales only 189 million pounds ($320 million) versus a forecast of 359 million and yearly maintenance costs of $41.3 million (28.4 million pounds), the Millennium Dome was an expensive fiasco [source: BBC News].

But all was not lost. In 2007, the dome was renamed the O2 Arena, after being sold to AEG, and a 20,000 seat concert arena was added at an additional cost of 600 million pounds [source: Metro]. The O2 Arena is now a very popular venue for rock concerts and sports events.