Mayor of London rejects plans for Las Vegas-style MSG Sphere

CGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere in London. CGI image of the proposed MSG Sphere in London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has rejected plans to build a huge illuminated Sphere in Stratford, similar to the one that opened in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment has proposed building a new MSG Sphere in London that would have a capacity of 21,500 people, complete with massive interior and exterior displays made up of millions of LEDs.

It would be similar to the Sphere at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, USA, which is 112m high and 157m wide and has a 54,000 sq m fully programmable LED exterior screen.

The London version would be around 90m high and 120 wide and sit on a podium on the site of a former coach park for the 2012 London Olympics in Stratford.

But in a letter to the London Legacy Development Corporation yesterday (20 November), Khan said the proposed scheme would be contrary to London’s development plan.

Listing his reasons for the decision, Khan argued that the MSG Sphere would:

  • Cause “significant light intrusion resulting in significant harm to the outlook of the neighbouring properties”, including homes.
  • Result in a “bulky, unduly dominant and incongruous form” that would “fail to respect the character and appearance of this part of town”.
  • Not achieve a high sustainability standard owing to the fact it would be highly energy intensive.
  • Cause “less than substantial harm” to 16 designated heritage assets in the area. Khan’s decision said the public benefits from the building “would not outweigh the ‘ess than substantial harm’” it would cause.

A final decision now rests with communities secretary Michael Gove on whether the project will move forward to construction.

A Sphere Entertainment spokesperson said, “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.”

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Mike Hayes Editor, Construction Europe Tel: +44 (0)1892 786 231 E-mail: [email protected]
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