The MSG Sphere London Plans Have Been Withdrawn by Developers

Plans to build a version of the Las Vegas MSG Sphere in Stratford are officially dead

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have seen the giant planet/dome/eyeball that’s landed just off the strip in Las Vegas. The exterior of the $2.3 billion Sphere has over a million LEDs that can be programmed to display pretty much anything – it’s been made to look like the Earth, an eyeball, and a giant emoji face – and inside, the venue boasts a colossal wrap-around LED screen and the world’s largest concert-grade audio system. As clips from U2’s residency show, watching a gig here is a unique experience.

A similar sphere for London, to sit just east of the Olympic Park in Stratford, had been in the works for years, comprising a 21,500-capacity main auditorium, 1,500 capacity nightclub, several restaurants and bars, and a giant exterior display. The London Legacy Development Corporation gave its approval last spring, however Sadiq Khan rejected the proposals from the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company on three grounds; the amount of light pollution the 100m high and 120m wide sphere would cause, the huge electricity bill it would run up and its lack of green credentials, and the impact it would have on heritage sites in the area.

A spokesperson for the Mayor 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. But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

Though Sadiq has made his position on the matter clear, Communities Secretary Michael Gove had thrown a spanner in the works by calling in the rejection, meaning that the plans still had to be reviewed by ministers. The company behind the Sphere have said that they now don’t want to build here, even with Gove’s last-minute intervention, choosing to focus on “forward-thinking cities” instead.

Now, despite that possibility of intervention by Gove, the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company has officially withdrawn its application, writing in a letter to the Planning Inspectorate that it “cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties” and that “it is extremely disappointing that Londoners will not benefit from the Sphere’s groundbreaking technology and the thousands of well-paying jobs it would have created.” Ding dong, the Sphere is dead.

Stratford, London, E20