James Dolan says the plan remains "to build more Spheres all over the world" after the opening of the inaugural venue in Las Vegas
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London mayor Sadiq Khan ruled the controversial scheme "would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents”
By Lisa Henderson on 20 Nov 2023
Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment’s plans for a Sphere venue in London have today been rejected by the Mayor of London.
The company behind the recently launched $2.3 billion Sphere in Las Vegas, US had hoped to build a 21,500-capacity replica in Stratford, east London, but local residents complained that the venue, which is lit on the outside by millions of LED lights, would affect their quality of life.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city. But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”
The project was first announced more than five years ago and was approved in principal by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) in March last year, despite objections from various parties. Further “significant concerns” were raised about the building’s height, bulk, massing and that it is “not a sustainable building due to high energy usage”.
“There are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those”
A spokesperson for MSG tells IQ: “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”
MSG’s futuristic Las Vegas Sphere launched in September to rave reviews with U2’s U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency. The proposed London spin-off, designed by architect Populous, would be covered in LED panels and stand almost 100m (300ft) high and 120m (360ft) wide. Recent reports suggested that developers had offered locals blackout blinds to make up for the glowing images they would be broadcasting via the structure’s external LED panels.
The venue would have been located four miles from AEG Europe’s The O2 (20,000-cap) in North Greenwich. A spokesperson for AEG, which has been a vocal opponent of the scheme and called on levelling up secretary Michael Gove to block the proposal, said it welcomed the decision.
“We welcome the Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of the Sphere’s planning application today,” says the firm. “We do not oppose competition in the live entertainment industry, and specifically do not oppose another large music venue in London. However, this proposal had fundamental flaws from the beginning. It was the wrong design, in the wrong location, and this was the right call.”
Today’s rejection comes a month after MSG boss James Dolan insisted the development – along with other potential spinoffs outside North America – was “still very much moving forward”.
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