O2 arena owner calls for Sadiq Khan to refuse MSG Sphere venue Stratford - 'wholly inappropriate'

O2 Arena owner AEG Europe is opposing plans for a new MSG Sphere in Stratford, which would hold 21,500 people at concerts compared to 20,000 at the O2.
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The owner of London’s O2 Arena has called on mayor Sadiq Khan to refuse the planning application for the MSG Sphere - though claims it is not against "competition in the live entertainment industry”.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has already approved the proposal for a massive LED-covered globe as tall as Big Ben. It granted a 25-year licence in January.

Approval is still required from the mayor for it to go ahead. There is also the prospect of government involvement after an Article 31 Direction was issued in February, meaning final permission cannot be granted until housing and communities secretary Michael Gove has decided whether the plans need to be “called in” for additional scrutiny.

The project has received considerable pushback from groups including local residents and councillors since it was first aired, largely due to the expected light pollution caused by the huge LED exterior.

MSG Sphere says steps have been taken to mitigate the impact of light pollution on nearby residents.

A mock-up of the MSG Sphere, which if plans are approved will be constructed in east London. Credit: MSG Sphere.A mock-up of the MSG Sphere, which if plans are approved will be constructed in east London. Credit: MSG Sphere.
A mock-up of the MSG Sphere, which if plans are approved will be constructed in east London. Credit: MSG Sphere.

Following this publication’s coverage of the application being received by City Hall, Alistair Wood, executive vice president of real estate and development at AEG Europe which owns the O2 Arena, told LondonWorld the company welcomes the latest update.

“We now call on the mayor to uphold his election promise and stand up for the wishes and welfare of local residents by rejecting this wholly inappropriate proposal,” he said.

Mr Wood claimed AEG “does not oppose competition in the live entertainment industry”, and that he is not against another large music venue in London.

Instead, he said the objection is due to “the unacceptable impact that this proposal will have on the public transport network, the operation of The O2 Arena, and the hundreds of residents who will be even more directly affected". 

“The massive advertising façade of the MSG Sphere is at a wholly unprecedented scale and totally out of keeping with the area," he continued. "The design was conceived for the heart of Las Vegas and has been transposed onto this suburban east London borough: it’s the wrong design, in the wrong location, and we call on the mayor to listen to local residents and put a stop to it once and for all.”

If approved, the MSG Sphere’s 21,500 capacity for its live music venue will eclipse the 20,000 the O2 Arena can hold. In addition to the venue, the sphere will host amenities including a 1,500-person club and restaurants.

An MSG Sphere has already been constructed in Las Vegas, where U2 has been hosting its inaugural residency since late September.

On the London project’s website, MSG Sphere writes it is “very conscious” of its neighbours and impacts of the venue, and that it has “taken several steps to mitigate the potential for light pollution including establishing set operating hours and luminance levels for the venue’s external lighting”.

Its plans include investment in a new entrance and ticket hall at nearby Stratford station among other local transport improvements.

MSG Sphere was approached by LondonWorld for a response to AEG, but it said it did not wish to comment.