More details have emerged about Madison Square Garden Company's future-facing arena complex, which will occupy a 4.7ac site in Stratford
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
The US entertainment group has bought land for a new large-scale venue, to be based on its futuristic MSG Sphere concept, in "one of the world’s greatest cities"
By Jon Chapple on 09 Feb 2018
London is to get a striking new large-scale music and entertainment venue courtesy of Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), its first outside the US, IQ can reveal. The venue will be based on the groundbreaking MSG Sphere concept unveiled yesterday in New York and LA.
MSG Sphere – which will debut at the American venue giant’s new 18,000-seat arena in Las Vegas when it breaks ground this June – aims “to make concertgoers part of the experience” through what MSG describes as “game-changing technologies that push the limits of connectivity, acoustics, video and content distribution”.
High-tech innovations include a sound system that individually targets each seat, ensuring everyone hears the same performance, no matter their location, and – most strikingly – ultra-HD video screens that stretch across venue’s walls and ceilings, enveloping attendees in an immersive visual experience. The Vegas venue will also feature high-speed internet at every seat, allowing concertgoers to share their experience on social media and enabling interactive experiences with artists.
While the London venue is still in the early stages of planning, with no concrete details on capacity or design, the company confirms it will be based on the MSG Sphere concept.
MSG Sphere London will be located next to the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, east London, near the site of the 2012 Olympic games.
Madison Square Garden Company – which has long been rumoured to have an interest in London, and was believed to be in the running to buy the Olympia before its acquisition by German investors in April – has purchased nearly five acres of land in the area on which to construct the venue, says MSG CEO James Dolan.
“London is one of the world’s greatest cities, and we are delighted to be taking this first step towards making it the location for MSG’s first international venue,” he says.
The project will be overseen by Jayne McGivern, who joined MSG as executive vice-president, development and construction. McGivern’s previous executive roles have included spells as UK managing director of AEG and CEO of leading contractor Multiplex Europe, which built the new Wembley Stadium.
“We believe that a large-scale, next-generation venue will not only become a premier destination, but also drive growth in London’s overall music and entertainment market,” continues Dolan, “benefiting artists and fans and serving as a long-term investment in the future of this incredible city. MSG Sphere will provide a home where like-minded communities can come together to not only interact with the performance, but also with each other.”
“London is one of the world’s greatest cities, and we are delighted to be taking this first step towards making it the location for MSG’s first international venue”
Preliminary analysis by Ernst & Young shows MSG Sphere London will create approximately 3,200 new jobs annually, contribute £2.7bn to the UK economy over the initial 20 years of operations and generate additional revenues of more than £50m every year for local businesses.
McGivern tells IQ that since the closure of Earls Court (20,000-cap.) in 2014, London has been “underserved by big arenas” – a statement backed up by research undertaken by Sound Diplomacy which found London, Europe’s live music capital, has fewer large arenas relative to population size than other major cities, including Paris, Berlin, Madrid and New York.
Plans for a new arena in east London raise the prospect of an escalation of the much-publicised ‘venue war’ between MSG and The O2 operator AEG, although McGivern says MSG is focused on “growing the market” rather than taking market share from other operators. “It’s absolutely an opportunity to grow the market in London,” she explains. “Whenever we see new venues popping up, the market grows with them – just look at the Forum in LA.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says MSG’s confidence in the UK capital is further testament to London’s status as a “music powerhouse”. “From intimate grassroots music venues to spectacular arenas, London’s buzzing live music scene is world renowned,” he comments. “It’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, to confirm London’s position as a music powerhouse and to boost still further our city’s thriving night-time economy.”
“It’s great news that the world-famous Madison Square Garden Company has chosen London to be home for its first international venue,” adds Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Matt Hancock. “This cements both the capital and UK’s reputation for leading the world in music and the creative industries.
“This groundbreaking arena in east London will not only create jobs, but help us continue to develop incredible artists, music and innovative technology that will give fans an amazing experience.”
In addition to its plans to build in London and Las Vegas, MSG’s venues include its flagship 20,000-cap. Madison Square Garden venue in New York, along with the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, California; the Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.