The MSG Sphere is set to be built in east London, near the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping centre
Plans to construct the UK’s largest concert arena in London have been unveiled in further detail today by The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG).
The organisation behind the iconic New York City venue of the same name are currently planning to make their first foray into the UK live entertainment market by building a brand new arena in Stratford, east London. Their intentions were first announced back in February 2018, with the plans receiving support from then-culture secretary Matt Hancock and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Called the MSG Sphere, the 21,500-capacity arena will sit on a 1.9-hectare (4.7-acre) site in Stratford which was purchased by MSG. The land, which is adjacent to both the Olympic Park and the Westfield shopping centre, was used a coach park during the 2012 London Olympics. If the venue is constructed as planned, it will outstrip both the Manchester Arena (capacity: 21,000) and The O2 in London (20,000) to become the largest purpose-built arena in the UK.
With planning documents having now been submitted, MSG have further clarified that the spherical arena (which was designed by Populous, the same architecture firm behind the new Wembley Stadium) would seat 17,566 people, or hold 21,500 when both seated and standing options are taken into consideration. The seating will be built upwards in a curved manner, which will face the stage on one side of the venue.
The 120 metre-wide and 90 metre-high venue will be covered in LED panels which, according to designs, will be clearly visible from 150 metres away. Those panels will project images of high-definition concert footage, or could be used for advertising purposes.
A separate 1,500-capacity venue will also be included in 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, will also be built.
A mission statement on the MSG website states: “We want to transform an undeveloped and inaccessible site into a thriving destination that will benefit the whole community – and bring the eastern and western sides of Stratford together through new infrastructure, road and highway improvements.
“And we want to contribute to Stratford’s global reputation as a leading destination for arts, music and entertainment.”
The plans, however, have already attracted resistance from local residents, who fear that the arena will cause light pollution and heavily increase traffic in the local area. A petition is currently active against the construction of the MSG Sphere.