fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

MSG Sphere London moves a step closer

Madison Square Garden’s controversial MSG Sphere London project has been given the go-ahead by planning officials despite objections from rival AEG.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) planning committee voted to back the application – which still requires approval from the mayor – by a 6-4 majority at a meeting last night (22 March), three years after plans were first submitted.

The 21,500-cap venue, which would be MSG’s first property outside of the US, is set to be located in Stratford, east London, four miles from AEG’s The O2 (20,000-cap) in North Greenwich. The building will be covered in LED panels designed to display digital content, including moving images, artistic content and branded advertising.

“We are pleased that the planning committee voted in support of our vision for MSG Sphere,” says a statement from MSG, first reported by Pollstar. “Throughout this process we have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders, and are grateful for their collaboration which is reflected in our detailed proposal. We now look forward to progressing onto the next steps in the approval process.”

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, more than 850 objections were received to the proposal, with 355 written responses in support.

“Reoccurring themes in representations in support are that the proposed development and advertisement proposals would make a distinctive contribution to the Stratford skyline, improve connectivity, create jobs and be an iconic visitor attraction,” read the report by LLDC principal planning development manager Daniel Davies, which had backed the scheme.

“Reoccurring themes in opposition to the proposed development are the lack of need for the development as well as its scale, massing and form in the local context, its impact on Stratford Station and the impact of advertising on residential amenity, the setting of heritage assets and public safety” it added.

“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector”

AEG has previously voiced concerns over the proposed venue’s proximity to The O2 and reiterated its opposition in the run-up to last night’s meeting.

“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector, or another large music venue in London, but it should not be built so close to The London Stadium, Copper Box, Westfield and The O2,” said a spokesperson for the company.

“It is imperative that it does not add to congestion or overcrowding in this area of the city, or on the public transport network, especially the Jubilee line which is critical for the movement of guests to and from The O2. We believe that MSG’s scheme is fundamentally the wrong proposal, in the wrong location, and is technically seriously flawed.”

A 2019 investigation by The Times found that AEG had created a residents’ group to oppose the scheme.

Earlier this month, MSG announced the appointment of veteran executive Lucas Watson as MSG Sphere president. Watson, who takes up the new role next week, will lead the strategy and execution of all business aspects of MSG Sphere and the company’s planned state-of-the-art venues.

He will oversee the global development of the MSG Sphere brand, including selectively extending the MSG Sphere network to other markets.

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 calendar 2023.

 


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.

MSG Sphere London plans to be debated next week

AEG has repeated its opposition to Madison Square Garden’s proposed new MSG Sphere London venue after it was confirmed a planning application for the development will be heard next week.

The 21,500-cap venue, which would be MSG’s first property outside of the United States, is set to be located in Stratford, east London, across the river from AEG’s The O2 (20,000-cap.) in North Greenwich.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) planning committee will meet to discuss the application on Tuesday 22 March, three years after plans were first submitted.

A spokesperson for AEG, which has previously voiced concerns over the MSG venue’s proximity to The O2, says: “We are calling on the LLDC to refuse MSG’s application for a new venue in Stratford and encourage the Mayor of London to formally oppose this project in order to protect Newham’s residents and existing businesses from this inappropriate development.

“The proposals would exacerbate congestion at the already over-crowded Stratford Station, and no additional train services are proposed to mitigate the impact on the Jubilee Line. It has been suggested that various further modelling and assessment be undertaken post-planning meaning that the full impact of the proposals is simply not known.”

“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector”

AEG insists it is not against competition, but argues the area is already well served by existing venues.

“AEG have always maintained we do not oppose competition in the live entertainment sector, or another large music venue in London, but it should not be built so close to The London Stadium, Copper Box, Westfield and The O2,” adds the spokesperson. “It is imperative that it does not add to congestion or overcrowding in this area of the city, or on the public transport network, especially the Jubilee line which is critical for the movement of guests to and from The O2.

“We believe that MSG’s scheme is fundamentally the wrong proposal, in the wrong location, and is technically seriously flawed.”

A 2019 investigation by The Times found that AEG had created a residents’ group to oppose the scheme.

“Our plans are not about competition,” MSG’s EVP of development and construction Jayne McGivern said at the time. “Examples from New York and Los Angeles suggest that a new arena would grow the market and complement London’s existing venues by expanding booking options and allowing more artists to perform in the city.

“We had hoped the owners of existing arenas in London would welcome innovation, diversity, and choice, and it’s extremely disappointing to us that they have not.”

 


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.

 

New York to require Covid-19 vax for all indoor shows

New York City, one of the world’s live music capitals, will soon require proof of being vaccinated for anyone who wants to attend an indoor live show, mayor Bill de Blasio announced today (3 August).

The strict new requirements will be extended to other indoor activities, including dining at a restaurant and working out at in the gym, throughout August and September, as the city seeks to stop the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.

New York is the first major city to impose such restrictions, though some venues already have similar requirements: Iconic arena Madison Square Garden, for example, has required all fans to be fully vaccinated for its non-socially distanced events since the Foo Fighters’ huge show in June. (Interestingly, the city mandate won’t require ‘full’/double vaccinations – only the first jab.)

“If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated”

According to AP, the policy will come into effect on 16 August but inspections and enforcement won’t begin until 13 September, when the city’s schools reopen. About 66% of adults in New York are fully vaccinated, according to official data.

De Blasio has so far rejected calls to require masks indoors, as some cities in California have, focusing instead on getting the city’s population immunised against the virus.

“The only way to patronise these establishments indoors will be if you’re vaccinated,” says de Blasio, whose office administers a city of over eight million people.“The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we’re going to stop the delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated right now.”

 


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.

NY venues that ask for proof of vax can fully reopen

New York venues are now permitted to return to full capacity, instead of one-third full, if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Major venues including Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Radio City Hall have already announced plans that centre around attendees who have been fully vaccinated.

Radio City Hall (cap 6,015) is set to reopen on 19 June at full capacity, exclusively for citizens who have been fully vaccinated, which counts for 44.6% of New Yorkers.

The news was announced by New York City governor Andrew Cuomo last week (17 May), during a conference held inside the music hall.

“Having Radio City back at 100%, without masks, with people enjoying New York, and the New York arts, is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state,” he said.

“This is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state”

James Dolan, executive chairman of the MSG Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, confirmed the venue is set to remain open and operate as usual beyond 19 June.

It’s not clear how the venue would check people’s vaccination status, but it’s likely that the Excelsior Pass will be used.

The app, launched by New York state, verifies proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination with art and entertainment venues and businesses by using a scannable QR code. It was tested during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Centre on 27 February and during the New York Rangers game on 2 March at MSG.

Yesterday (23 May), MSG welcomed 15,000 fans to watch the first round of the NBA playoffs, marking the largest indoor gathering for New York state since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, governor Cuomo announced that the city’s basketball teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, would have fully vaccinated fan sections, increasing the capacity at MSG and the Barclays Centre.

According to Dolan, almost 90% of last night’s audience had been vaccinated and therefore, were not required to socially distance or wear masks when seated.

“The public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love”

“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” said Dolan.

“This overwhelming response by Knicks fans – almost 90% of whom are vaccinated – should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank governor Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this – not just for us, but for New York.”

New York treads a similar path as Israel, which requires citizens to be doubly vaccinated to gain access to concerts, gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels.

Israelis’ vaccination status is verified by the Green Pass – a certificate issued by the ministry of health showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from Covid-19 and were presumed immune.

The ethical implications of implementing vaccine passports have been hotly debated around the world. Last week, in IQ’s first-ever Recovery Sessions, a number of experts hailing from Tel Aviv to London debated the topics of test certificates and vaccine passports.

IQ subscribers can watch the Recovery Sessions on-demand here.

 


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.

NY launches Covid-19 pass to fast-track return to live

New York has become the first US state to launch a digital Covid-19 pass that shows citizens’ vaccination status and test results, in an effort to help venues welcome larger groups.

Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,789) in New York City and the Times Union Center (cap. 17,500) in Albany are among the major venues that have already announced they will begin to utilise the Excelsior Pass in the coming weeks.

Smaller arts, entertainment and event venues will be able to use the Excelsior Pass from 2 April.

The pass can either be printed out or stored on smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the Excelsior Pass, developed in partnership with IBM, on Friday (26 March).

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back Covid, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” said governor Cuomo.

“The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to NY’s recovery”

“The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening,” he said.

James Dolan, executive chairman, MSG Sports and executive chairman and CEO, MSG Entertainment, says: “We are grateful the state is focused on doing everything possible to reopen businesses across our region safely and quickly. The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to New York’s recovery. We were proud to be part of the Excelsior Pass pilot and look forward to participating in the programme.”

Madison Square Garden (MSG) was part of the pilot programme to test the Excelsior Pass.

The initial phase of the pilot took place during a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) on 27 February and was tested for a second time during a New York Rangers game at MSG on 2 March.

Following that, major stadiums and arenas in New York were permitted to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February, using guidelines based on the testing programme.

Similar ‘vaccine passports’ are already being developed, or are under consideration, in a number of European Union countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Cyprus.

An EU-wide vaccine passport that could replace the piecemeal approach currently being pursued by individual member states, was put forward last week.

 


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.

US election: Venues turn into polling stations

Live Nation has announced plans to use more than 100 of its US venues as polling stations for the American presidential election on 3 November.

The concert giant says it is working with local authorities to examine the feasibility of using Live Nation-owned venues across the country as polling centres, with the Wiltern (1,850-cap.) and Hollywood Palladium (3,800-cap.) in Los Angeles, Emo’s (1,700-cap.) in Austin, Texas, and the Buckhead Theatre (1,800-cap.) in Atlanta already confirmed.

The Fillmore (2,500-cap.) in Philadelphia is in the “final stages of the vetting process”, it adds.

“Core to what we do at Live Nation is helping amplify voices on stage around the world, and supporting voting is another important way we want to continue making voices heard,” comments LN CEO Michael Rapino. “We’re honoured to work with such incredible partners and will do everything in our power to support and empower voter engagement among our employees and the public.”

The LN properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas

The company has also partnered with More Than a Vote, a non-profit organisation supporting black voters, and announced it will give its employees paid time off to vote.

The Live Nation properties join other venues previously announced as serving as polling stations, including multiple arenas. They include Madison Square Garden in New York, the Los Angeles Forum, State Farm Arena in Atlanta and Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to make mass gatherings difficult, we are excited to partner with New York City’s board of elections,” says Madison Square Garden’s Rich Constable, “and support our community by providing a large-scale venue in the heart of New York City that can accommodate social distancing and serve as a safe place for residents to exercise their right to vote.”

The US presidential election will be held on Tuesday 3 November 2020, pitting incumbent president Donald Trump against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

MSG plans full ents spin-off amid UK Sphere delays

Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) expects 2020 to be a “defining year”, as the company prepares to spin-off its entertainment businesses from its sports company and announces changes to Sphere plans.

The announcements were made in an earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2020, in which reported an adjusted operating loss of US$41.1 million, compared to $9.9m in Q1 2019. The company puts part of the increased losses down to “additional expenses in MSG Sphere related content and technology”.

The Sphere venues formed a major part of the conversation, with MSG president Andrew Lustgarten confirming that a 2022 opening for the 21,500-capacity London Sphere is “no longer realistic”, as the planning application process looks to continue into 2020.

“As we work through the planning application and design process, our timeline will continue to evolve,” said Lustgarten. “Therefore, we do not have a target opening date at this time.”

MSG vice chairman Gregg Seibert cited the change to the London Sphere opening plans as a reason for the company’s decision to pursue a full spin-off of its entertainment business from its sports business, resulting in no retention of equity interest in the sports company.

“We do not have a target opening date [for the London Sphere] at this time”

“Timeline for the opening of our London venue is evolving and we believe that the entertainment company will have sufficient financial flexibility to pursue its venue expansion plans without the need for the retained interest,” explained Seibert.

MSG had previously explored a spin-off of its sports and entertainment businesses into two distinct public companies, with the entertainment company retaining a one-third stake in MSG sports.

The spin-off remains subject to final approvals by the MSG board and others.

All remains on track for the original MSG Sphere to open in Las Vegas in 2021. MSG believes the venue will be “highly successful”, due to the growing demand for immersive shared experiences, Las Vegas’ positioning as “one of the world’s top entertainment destinations” and a partnership with convention-based resort specialist Las Vegas Sands.

“We expect MSG Sphere to change how we think about the entertainment experience, which is why we anticipate the Las Vegas Sphere becoming the most highly utilised venue in our portfolio.”

The first quarter of 2020 also saw MSG report a quarterly revenue of $214.8m, a 2% decrease year-on-year. The decline was attributed to the absence of a “special event” to replace the MTV Video Music Awards, which took place in Q1 2019.

 


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.

Billy Joel extends best-ever sold-out run at MSG

Billy Joel will continue his record-breaking monthly residency at New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) on 25 January 2020.

The singer has played one show per month at the venue for the past six years, selling over one million tickets. All shows have been sold-out.

The January date marks the 72nd performance of his MSG residency and his 118th overall at the venue. Joel says he will maintain the residency “as long as the demand continues”.

Joel will continue his residency “as long as the demand continues”

In December 2013, Joel was named MSG’s first-ever music franchise, joining two other MSG mainstays – basketball team the New York Knicks and ice hockey club the New York Rangers.

Joel has been the recipient of the ASCAP Centennial Award, six Grammy Awards and a Tony Award. The singer was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Tickets for the January show will be available to buy at 10 a.m. (EST) on Friday 1 November via the Ticketmaster website.

 


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.

The Garden adds biometric entry with Clear

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has signed a partnership with secure identity service Clear to offer fingerprint-based biometric entry to its Madison Square Garden arena in New York.

The 20,000-capacity Garden becomes Clear’s 14th venue, joining sports and entertainment destinations such as Citi Field and Yankee Stadium in New York, Oracle Park in San Francisco, Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, T-Mobile Park in Seattle and AmericanAirlines Arena and Marlins Park in Miami, as well as international airports across the US.

A dedicated Clear lane at Madison Square Garden will offers fans fast, frictionless access into sports matches, concerts and other live events held at the world’s second-busiest arena, with Clear staff on site to assist patrons with enrolling into the biometric programme and generating their ‘Clear ID’.

“Launching at MSG represents a major milestone for Clear”

“We are pleased to welcome Clear into the Madison Square Garden family,” says Ron Skotarczak, executive vice-president of marketing partnerships for MSG. “Like MSG, Clear is committed to enhancing the customer experience, and we look forward to providing CLEAR’s growing membership with unforgettable Garden memories.”

“Launching at MSG represents a major milestone for Clear, and we look forward to making our members’ experience there more efficient, easier and more predictable so they don’t miss out on what they came to see,” adds Clear CEO Caryn Seidman Becker.

“By adding the Garden to our growing New York City ecosystem, Clear members can now enjoy frictionless experiences at three iconic sports and entertainment venues and three key local-area airports with one biometric ID.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free digest of essential live music industry news, via email or Messenger.

Booking war nears end as AEG abandons block booking

Update (23/9/18): The Osbournes have dropped their lawsuit against AEG following the end of the O2–Staples Center block-booking arrangement.

 


The long-running ‘booking war’ between AEG and Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) looks to be approaching its conclusion, after Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, confirmed the company is no longer block booking its LA Staples Center and London O2 venues.

The two companies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat dispute since early 2017, with AEG instituting a booking policy that forces artists who want to perform at AEG’s European venues, particularly the 20,000-cap. O2 Arena, to also play Staples Center (21,000-cap.) rather than MSG’s LA Forum (17,500-cap.). MSG and Azoff MSG Entertainment, its joint venture with former Live Nation executive chairman Irving Azoff, similar tied Madison Square Garden in New York with the Forum in LA, with each party blaming the other for starting the ‘war’.

Recent developments include MSG-allied Live Nation lodging a complaint with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority over the O2–Staples Center arrangement, which was dismissed by the CMA last December, and, in March, Ozzy and Sharon Obsnourne suing AEG, alleging that forcing artists to play both venues is an “explicit”, “brazen” violation of US competition law.

Announcing the end of the block-booking policy, Marciano tells Variety it is no longer necessary now that MSG has ended its own tying arrangement.

“I applaud Jay Marciano and AEG’s decision to put artists first”

“Going forward, promoters for artists who want to play the O2 will no longer to be required to commit to playing Staples,” he says.

“We would only require that commitment if we had reason to believe that artists were being somehow pressured to play the Forum in order to have access to the Garden. But we’ve had a lot of feedback from artists and agents and managers that they’re no longer [feeling pressured to do so].

“We’re pleased that this is the end result.”

Azoff welcomes the news, while also praising the Osbournes for their legal action. “It’s a great day for artists when those of us that make a living serving them recognise that artists should have the right to their own decisions, especially regarding choice of venues to play,” he says in a statement. “I applaud Jay Marciano and AEG’s decision to put artists first, and of course thanks to Ozzy and Sharon for standing up for everyone.”

 


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.