Sir Robert McAlpine leads the race to redevelop the Millennium Dome into a 20,000-capacity sports and entertainment arena...

One of the original contractors of the Millennium Dome is set to convert it into a sports and entertainment arena.

Sir Robert McAlpine, who built the Dome in the late 1990s in a joint venture with Laing, has emerged as favourite to build the 20,000-capacity Dome Arena scheme, designed by HOK.

Reports last month claimed Australian rival Multiplex was in line to win the £100m deal from client Anschutz Entertainment.

Market sources however claim that McAlpine is now ahead in the race to redevelop the site, which has lain dormant for two and a half years. Laing O’Rourke also bid for the scheme but dropped from contention in May.

The decision to appoint a contractor was due late last month but is now expected next month. Work will begin on the 66,000m2 project next year.

The project is part of a £5bn regeneration scheme for the Dome itself and the surrounding 190-acres of land. Meridian Delta, the joint venture between Quintain and Lend Lease, signed a deal to press ahead with the scheme with regeneration agency English Partnerships, Anschutz and Greenwich Council at the end of last month.

The overall project, masterplanned by Terry Farrell and Partners, will also include 10,000 houses 370,000m2 of offices and 35,000m2 of retail space.