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New 13,000-cap. arena coming to London?

As London’s stadia flex their music muscles and MSG continues to develop its groundbreaking Sphere, it has emerged that Europe’s live music capital could soon be home to another major new entertainment venue.

According to local media, the Linford Christie Outdoor Sports Centre – a stadium and community sports facility on Wormwood Scrubs, near East Acton, and home to the Thames Valley Harriers athletics club and PHC Chiswick hockey team – is slated as the site for a new 13,000-capacity performance venue, under council plans for the regeneration of the area, dubbed ‘Project Bolt’.

According to the Evening Standard, Hammersmith and Fulham borough council has appointed Populous – the designer of London’s Olympic Stadium, as well as MSG Sphere London – to explore masterplans for the Linford Christie stadium site, which could include an “event/performance venue”.

The proposed arena could either be “integrated with a community stadium” or a standalone structure, says Populous, in documents seen by the Standard.

The Acton venue’s capacity of 13,000 would make it slightly larger than AEG’s 12,500-cap. SSE Arena Wembley but put it behind the O2 in Greenwich (21,000-cap.) and the planned MSG Sphere in Stratford (believed to be in the region of 18,000).

“We have asked a masterplan architect to draw up options”

A Hammersmith and Fulham spokesperson describes the council’s subsidies to the sports stadium are “unsustainable” and says it has instructed “a masterplan architect [Populous] to draw up options”.

The spokesperson adds that the council is also still talking to Queens Park Rangers football club, which confirmed last year it had held “informal talks” with the local authority about the possibility of building a new stadium on Wormwood Scrubs.

The council’s plans for the Linford Christie site come amid a busy period for London’s live music market. In addition to MSG Sphere (for which Madison Square Garden Company hopes to have submitted a planning application by this autumn), many of London’s sports stadia bulked up their music programming in 2018: Twickenham Stadium told IQ in March that this summer’s shows by the Rolling Stones and Eminem are the beginning of a new era of concerts at the venue, while Wembley Stadium and London Stadium in Stratford hosted shows by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift and Jay-Z/Beyoncé and Foo Fighters, respectively.

Tottenham Hotspur FC – which played at Wembley in 2017–18 – has additionally announced plans to bring concerts and “other major events” to its new stadium in north London, due to open this month.


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