Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s ambitious plans to construct a cutting-edge music and entertainment venue, known as the MSG Sphere, in London’s East End, have encountered a significant setback. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has officially rejected the proposal, citing profound concerns about its impact on local residents and environmental sustainability.
Xttrawave highlighted how in the 2023 F1 Las Vegas race, the spectacular Sphere, a colossal globe-like LED display located along the strip, rapidly become a focal point in Las Vegas, serving as a dynamic canvas for an array of captivating visuals. In addition to promotional content, the Sphere played a pivotal role in providing race enthusiasts with crucial information by displaying driver cards, race statistics, and real-time updates. The Sphere’s breathtaking capabilities were further highlighted as it seamlessly broadcasted exhilarating footage directly from the race, delivering an immersive experience to spectators, both trackside and online.
The decision, which was reported by The Standard on November 21, comes following a comprehensive review of the planning application for the MSG Sphere. This proposed venue, designed as a replica of the successful MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, aimed to be a colossal 21,500-seat arena adorned with LED panels and towering nearly 300 feet high.
Key concerns raised by Mayor Khan include the potential for significant light pollution caused by the Sphere’s LED panels, which could disrupt the sleep patterns of Stratford residents. Additionally, the project’s energy consumption raised major environmental worries, and its location was considered a potential threat to nearby heritage sites.
“While London welcomes global investments and aspires to host world-class entertainment venues,” a spokesperson for Mayor Khan stated, “the Mayor has received independent evidence indicating that the current MSG Sphere proposals would have an unacceptable adverse impact on local residents.”
In response to Mayor Khan’s decision, MSG Entertainment has announced its decision to abandon the London project. They intend to sell the purchased brownfield site and explore opportunities to build the Sphere in another country.
MSG Executive Chairman and CEO James Dolan expressed his disappointment, stating, “This really is the end of the line for London. Why doesn’t London want the best show on earth? We were totally taken aback by this… We thought the mayor was supportive. He gave no indication he was going to behave like this.”
AEG, the operator of another major London music venue, The O2, welcomed Mayor Khan’s decision. Alistair Wood, Executive Vice President of Real Estate & Development at AEG Europe, stated, “This proposal had fundamental flaws from the beginning. It was the wrong design, in the wrong location, and this was the right call.”
While disappointed with London’s decision, Sphere Entertainment, a unit of MSG Entertainment, has revealed discussions with the South Korean city of Hanam to potentially host the Sphere, indicating that they remain determined to bring this groundbreaking technology to other communities.
MSG’s initial plan to construct the MSG Sphere in Stratford was unveiled in early 2018. MSG Entertainment, a spin-off from the Madison Square Garden Company, boasts ownership of renowned venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre, and The Chicago Theatre.
This development marks a significant turn of events for the MSG Sphere project and the live entertainment industry in London.