The MSG Sphere, a new arena set to open in London, has been given the go-ahead despite objections from The O2 operator AEG.
First announced back in 2018, the 21,500-capacity venue is the brainchild of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp (MSG), the team behind the iconic New York venue of the same name. It will become the UK’s largest concert arena.
The MSG Sphere will sit on a 1.9-hectare (4.7-acre) site in Stratford that was purchased by MSG. The land, which is adjacent to both the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping centre, was used as a coach park during the 2012 London Olympics.
After futuristic mock-up images of the venue were published in 2019, MSG shared further details about the new space in September 2020 – including the news that Network Rail had withdrawn its initial objection to the construction of the arena.
As Music Week reports, however, over 1,000 local residents formally opposed the planning application while AEG – the operator of The O2 Arena in Greenwich – objected due to the Sphere’s proximity to its own 20,000 capacity venue, which is just four miles away.
Despite these concerns, the MSG Sphere was approved by planning authorities at the London Legacy Development Corporation yesterday (March 22). It’s said that the decision still has to be approved by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
MSG’s Paul Westbury said that the Sphere’s application had gone through a “thorough assessment”, adding that the arena would help make Stratford “a global destination for music and technology” (via the Evening Standard).
Westbury said the venue would boost London’s economy by £2.5billion, explaining that the plans had been “informed by” feedback from local residents.
There is currently no firm date set for the opening of the MSG Sphere.
It was previously confirmed that all jobs at the arena would be paid at the London living wage at least, and that at least 35 per cent of the jobs to help construct the arena would be given to local people.
“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,” MSG said.
A separate 1,500-capacity venue will feature within the MSG Sphere to “help support grassroots and emerging music acts”, while a 450-capacity restaurant and nightclub, retail spaces and cafes are also being planned.
Outdoor spaces – including a nature play space for children, seating areas, and an outdoor gym – were also outlined as part of the plans.