Las Vegas Sphere London - Stratford: Plans officially withdrawn by US firm

Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company (MSG) has dropped its plans for a huge 'sphere' entertainment venue in Stratford, east London.
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Plans to build a giant LED-covered, multi-use, spherical entertainment venue in east London have been formally withdrawn, according to reports.

The US firm behind the project, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company (MSG), has written to British officials to tell them it is pulling out of a process overseen by the Planning Inspectorate.

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The withdrawal comes after the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan decided to block the application to build the Las Vegas-style ‘sphere’ in November.

The project raised concerns among residents, primarily due to its expected light pollution and impact on those living near to the Stratford site.

Plans for LED lights to be attached to its exterior, which would have projected a range of content including adverts and digital art, drew particular consternation.

A mock-up of what the MSG Sphere would have looked like in east London, towering over nearby flats.A mock-up of what the MSG Sphere would have looked like in east London, towering over nearby flats.
A mock-up of what the MSG Sphere would have looked like in east London, towering over nearby flats.

In December, the decision was passed to Housing Secretary Michael Gove to use his powers to review the mayor’s decision.

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In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, seen by LondonWorld, MSG said it was “extremely disappointing” that Londoners would “not benefit from the Sphere’s groundbreaking technology and the thousands of well-paying jobs it would have created”.

According to the agency, the letter said that after spending millions of pounds buying the site and five years engaging with authorities the company "cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties".

The MSG Sphere, which would have been very similar to the recently-opened Sphere in Las Vegas and run by the same company, Sphere Entertainment, was earmarked for a site at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

The London Sphere would have been covered in LED panels and would have been almost 100m (300ft) high and 120m (360ft) wide. In addition to a music venue, which would have been able to accommodate up to 21,500 people, the MSG Sphere would have included a club, restaurants and a range of other entertainment offerings.

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A spokesperson for Sphere Entertainment said: “We have informed Mr. Gove that our decision not to move forward with our plans for Sphere in London stands, and we will not be participating in the call-in process.

"We would like to thank all of those who worked earnestly to bring this project to London. We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with forward-thinking cities around the world who are serious about bringing this next-generation entertainment experience to their communities.”

News of the withdrawal has been welcomed by the Stop MSG Sphere London campaign group which wrote on X: “Now we really can say HAPPY NEW YEAR and good riddance to MSG Sphere.”

Green councillor for Stratford Olympic Park Nate Higgins said in a statement: “Sadiq Khan's rejection of the project brought hope that people would finally be listened to. For no benefit to residents whatsoever, Michael Gove put residents through over a month of extra heartache over this completely unsuitable project." 

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The councillor added: "Nobody wants black out blinds imposed on them just for the sake of advertising screens the size of Big Ben and the London Eye, and it's clear that is all MSG were ever interested in. Residents deserve better than that, and that's without mentioning the chaos this project would have caused to Stratford Station and the Jubilee Line."

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said: “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city.”

 “As part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the mayor saw independent evidence that showed the proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents. This included the adverse effects of the substantial external lighting.”

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