It's full steam ahead for MSG Sphere in London, as MSG Entertainment works with local stakeholders to make the ambitious project a reality
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The proposed venue will be covered in LED panels designed to display "moving images, artistic content and branded advertising across the entire façade of the building"
By James Hanley on 25 Jan 2023
Madison Square Garden’s controversial MSG Sphere London scheme has overcome another hurdle after officials backed its digital advertising display plans.
The proposed venue, which was approved in principal in March last year, will be covered in LED panels designed to display “moving images, artistic content and branded advertising across the entire façade of the building”.
Despite a number of objections from various parties, the scheme won the support of the London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) at a meeting yesterday (24 January), subject to a five-year review. It will now be referred to the mayor of London.
If given final approval, the 21,500-cap Sphere will be located in Stratford, east London, four miles from AEG’s The O2 (20,000-cap) in North Greenwich, and become MSG’s first property outside of the US. MSG has suggested that London has an “undersupply” of dedicated large entertainment venues compared with cities such as Berlin, Paris, Madrid and New York (the capital’s next biggest indoor spaces are the 12,500-cap OVO Arena Wembley and the 10,400-cap Alexandra Palace.
However, the scheme is fiercely opposed by AEG, which has voiced concerns over MSG Sphere London’s proximity to The O2 and – according to a 2019 investigation by The Times – created a residents’ group in opposition. AEG says it is “dismayed” by the outcome of last night’s meeting.
“The design was conceived for the heart of Las Vegas and has been transposed onto this east London site: it’s the wrong design, in the wrong location”
“We are dismayed by the LLDC PDC’s decision to sign off the MSG Sphere’s advertising strategy for its digital display in the face of strong objections from Newham Council, neighbouring east London boroughs, the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the local MP, rail operators, Transport for London, Historic England, and hundreds of local residents, some of whom are represented by local campaign group, Stop MSG,” says a statement by the company.
“We call on the mayor of London to uphold his election promise to do what’s best for Londoners, including the residents of Newham who are having this huge development forced on them, by directing refusal of the planning application.”
AEG claims the advertising façade is at a “wholly unprecedented scale for London” and “totally out of keeping with the surrounding area”.
“The design was conceived for the heart of Las Vegas and has been transposed onto this east London site: it’s the wrong design, in the wrong location,” it adds. “We have concluded that there are at least 10 problems with the MSG Sphere’s proposed controls for the advertising display. Fundamentally, regardless of the findings of a review after five years, no matter how damaging and intrusive the light pollution is to the health of residents or dangerous to rail or road users, the advertisement consent will not be revoked.”
The first MSG Sphere venue, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, is currently under construction in Las Vegas and is scheduled to open in the second half of 2023.
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