Is the Withdrawal of the ‘London Sphere’ Going to be a Blow to the UK?

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An artist’s projection of the proposed MSG Sphere. - Copyright Credit: The Madison Square Garden Company

Madison Square Garden (MSG), the creator of the Las Vegas Sphere has announced its decision to pull the plug on the proposed replication of the same edifice in London. MSG backed its stance by communicating the next move of taking the ‘Sphere’ project to a country more receptive to the concept.

The arguments

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, rejected the realisation of the Las Vegas Sphere replica, a project that has been in the pipeline for five years in east London.

The mayor explained through a spokesperson that the LED light proposed to be used for the project would be a disturbance to the sleep and peace of local residents.

“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 mayor communicated.

MSG, however, strongly believes the stiff opposition towards the ‘London Sphere’ is politically inclined. Especially, when one of the strong protesters is the owner of 02 Arena, a 20,000-capacity entertainment venue which is not very far from the would-have-been venue of the London Sphere.

MSG in a letter to the Planning Inspectorate wrote “We are officially withdrawing our application from the Planning Inspectorate process.

“After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a five-year planning process with numerous governmental bodies, including the local planning authority who approved our plans following careful review, we cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties.”

The company further stated that it was such a bummer that London would “not benefit from the Sphere’s groundbreaking technology and the thousands of well-paying jobs it would have created”.

The facts

The London Sphere was first proposed and submitted by MSG in 2019 but it quickly met a protest from residents and some campaign groups.

The proposal was subsequently rejected by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan in November 2023 who cited light pollution and huge light bills as grounds for the rejection. However, Housing Secretary, Michael Gove in December 2023 gave the green light to MSG to proceed with the project.

MSG acquired the 4.7-acre plot in Stratford that served as a park in the 2012 London Olympics but was abandoned shortly after. The company spent several pounds to acquire the land for a 21,000-capacity entertainment venue.

The inspiration for the ‘London Sphere’, The Sphere Las Vegas was unveiled on September 29, 2023. The concept of the spherical venue was birthed by James Dolan, the executive chair of Madison Square Garden.

The Sphere Las Vegas has a 17,6000 seating capacity and has hosted unforgettable shows like the premiere of “Postcard from Earth”.

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