The Doctor Who Experience closed its doors last September but as much as it was a sad time for Doctor Who fans all over the world, it was a sadder time for the Cardiff Council who were left with a rather large bit of debt that will have to be adsorbed by the council’s budget.
Adrian Robson, the Cardiff Conservative Councillor was dumbfounded, stating “I still don’t know how we managed to lose over a million pounds on Doctor Who“.
How did this happen? In 2011 the land the Doctor Who Experience was built on was being leased from the Welsh Government by Cardiff Council. BBC Worldwide and the council formed an agreement in order to build the Doctor Who Experience on the land, upping tourism and potentially benefiting both parties. The council would provide the accommodations for the Doctor Who themed museum, costing more than £2m to construct. The deal would allow the council to receive a share of the ticket sales during the 5 year lease period to recoup the cost of construction. These sales were projected to be quite high due to the global branding. “Unfortunately the projected visitor numbers failed to materialise leaving the shortfall”, says Councillor Russell Goodway, Cardiff’s cabinet member for investment and development.
The 3,000 sq ft centre opened in July of 2012. However, by the end of the 5 year lease The Doctor Who Experienced closed its doors and with the ambitious projections for visitors falling short, the council was left in quite a predicament.
“This has left the council having to make up the £1.1m which will have to be absorbed by the council’s budget. We are, however, working on plans for the building with the Welsh Government although nothing has yet been finalised.” – Russell Goodway
A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide has said, “The lease ran for its full, five year term and there was no additional loan agreement”. She also stated, “The Doctor Who Experience was enjoyed by fans for five years in Cardiff Bay during its lease with Cardiff Council”.
The building remains empty at present. Though hopefully the council will be able to create a new use for the building that will assist in recouping their debt. As for any future plans for opening a new Doctor Who Experience, nothing has been announced.