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MSG sets out further Sphere London commitments

Madison Square Garden Entertainment has set out further details of its London arena project, MSG Sphere.

The futuristic 21,500-capacity arena – which will, if approved, occupy a nearly five-acre site in Stratford, east London – has overcome a major hurdle after Network Rail, which manages much of the UK’s railway network, withdrew its objection to Sphere following consultation with MSG and local partners.

“We are pleased to provide additional details in support of our planning application for MSG Sphere, underlining our commitment to create jobs and boost the local economy,” comments Jayne McGivern, MSG Entertainment’s executive vice-president of development and construction. “The materials reflect the constructive dialogue we have had with a range of local stakeholders, and further demonstrate the careful consideration that has gone into every aspect of our plans.”

The updated documents – issued in response to a request from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which is considering MSG’s planning application – can be read on the LLDC planning portal here.

In addition to its work with Network Rail, the MSG submission includes a number of voluntary planning conditions the company says addresses feedback from LLDC and local residents.

“The materials reflect the constructive dialogue we have had with a range of local stakeholders”

They include parameters around the hours of operation, event timings and the high-tech venue’s eye-catching external display, including restrictions on overnight lighting, as well as measures to coordinate arrival and departure times for event attendees.

Another contains a proposal to provide 111 disabled parking spaces at Stratford International station with free mobility assistance to the arena.

MSG originally hoped Sphere London could open in 2022 – a year after its sister venue in Las Vegas – but with the planning process continuing well into 2020, that is no longer a “realistic” goal, the company said last November. (The opening of MSG Sphere Las Vegas has since been pushed back to 2023 after construction was halted by coronavirus.)

The latest submission to the LLDC builds on previous commitments made by MSG Entertainment, including a guarantee that all on-site jobs will be paid at least the London living wage, investment in a new entrance and ticket hall for Stratford station, and a commitment to employing local people for least 35% of construction and operational jobs.

“We are confident our proposal thoughtfully sets out how we will deliver a world-class venue, and remain excited about the opportunity to bring MSG Sphere to London,” continues McGivern.


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Why young women are the future of construction

It feels odd to me that more women aren’t involved in an industry as interesting and challenging as construction – according to official statistics, women only account for 12.5% of the UK industry today.

This isn’t just a man’s job and, although I haven’t encountered any major obstacles during my career because I am a woman, there’s clearly something going on if construction is still so dominated by men.

So, after the first International Women’s Day of this decade, I think it’s important that we encourage the young women of today to become the future of this important industry and take advantage of the career-defining opportunities available to them.

I’ve led teams delivering some of this country’s most iconic projects, including the O2 Arena and the new Wembley Stadium. And today, in my role as executive vice-president of development and construction at The Madison Square Garden Company, I have the extraordinary opportunity to deliver state-of-the-art venues that represents the future of live entertainment: MSG Sphere.

We are currently building MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, and we’ve also announced plans to build a second MSG Sphere in London, pending planning consent and other approvals.

As a leader in the construction industry, it’s exciting to take on the challenge of transforming a disused and unloved former coach park in east London into a state-of-the-art venue, bringing jobs and investment to Newham and to the country.

I feel strongly that the key to getting more women into our sector is to show them what’s possible

It’s perhaps a happy coincidence that the Women into Construction project was developed on the Olympic Park, just yards from the MSG Sphere site in Stratford, to address the gender imbalance in construction. It was originally created as part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympics with the aim of increasing the number of women working in construction on the Olympic Park and creating a trickle-down effect throughout the industry.

I’d like to think that a project as exciting as MSG Sphere could be just as inspiring and encourage young women who are thinking about their future careers to consider development, construction, engineering, architecture and environmental sustainability – just some of the many job opportunities that MSG Sphere would create.

I feel strongly that the key to getting more women into our sector is to show them what’s possible. That’s one of the reasons MSG is so focused on working with schools, colleges and youth groups in east London: to give today’s students a taster of the sort of work they could do at MSG Sphere in the future.

And I am proud to continually champion the many exceptional women I work with at The Madison Square Garden Company, where so many of our senior management team are female.

It is odd that only 12.5% of the construction industry is female. I believe this is largely the result of an erroneous perception that the industry is not as open to women rather than the reality.

That said, if there are barriers to women joining this profession, then we need to remove them, and I would encourage the current and future leaders in the construction industry to lean in and do this together by example, by encouragement and – most importantly – by deed.


Jayne McGivern is executive vice-president, development and construction, for The Madison Square Garden Company.