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Sphere group to “concentrate” on “forward-thinking cities” as they voice “disappointment” in London venue refusal

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The operators of the Las Vegas Sphere have issued a response after Mayor Sadiq Khan rejected plans to build the venue in the UK capital.

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It was reported yesterday (November 20) that the London Mayor had turned down plans to build an MSG Sphere in Stratford, citing issues of light pollution and negative impacts on residents.

Plans for the venue – which would have been the city’s equivalent to the MSG Las Vegas Sphere – were first announced back in 2018, when the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp (MSG) submitted a planning application to the London Legacy Development Corporation, requesting to transform a site in Stratford.

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If it had come to fruition, the 21,500-capacity venue would have been the largest concert arena in the UK. It would also have contained a smaller 1,500-capacity venue inside the orb-like arena for grassroots artists, as well as shops and restaurants.

Now, following the plans being rejected by Khan, the operators for the company have issued a response, stating that they are disappointed in the decision and will now be directing their developments to more “forward-thinking cities” instead.

In a statement shared with NME, a spokesperson for Sphere Entertainment said: “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”

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The Sphere is seen during P3 practice at the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Thursday, November 17, 2023 on the Las Vegas Street Circuit in Las Vegas, NV.
The Sphere is seen during P3 practice at the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Thursday November 17 2023 on the Las Vegas Street Circuit in Las Vegas NV CREDIT Bob KupbensIcon Sportswire via Getty Images

Originally, the UK version of the Sphere venue was set to 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 previously used as a coach park during the 2012 London Olympics.

Futuristic mock-up images of the venue were published in 2019, and the company then shared further details about the new space in September the following year – including the news that Network Rail had withdrawn its initial objection to the construction of the arena.

Backlash towards the development arose from residents in the area that same year, however, and the London Assembly environment committee warned of the unacceptable light levels that would be made by the venue.

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Despite these concerns, the MSG Sphere was still approved by planning authorities at the London Legacy Development Corporation in March 2022.

Further resistance arose this February, when MP Michael Gove temporarily paused planning progress by issuing an Article 31 holding directive. This temporarily blocked the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and the Mayor of London from signing off proposals for the venue.

The Sphere is seen during the opening night with U2:UV Achtung Baby Live concert at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States on September 29, 2023.
The Sphere is seen during the opening night with U2UV Achtung Baby Live concert at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas Nevada United States on September 29 2023 CREDIT ayfun CoskunAnadolu Agency via Getty Images

As for the Las Vegas Sphere, the venue in Nevada opened its doors back on September 29 and has since been the home of Irish rock band U2, who have played an ‘Achtung Baby’ residency there.

Following the launch, NME gave U2 a five-star review for their opening night at the site – praising them for creating an atmosphere that “truly takes your breath away”. More recently, it was announced that the band were extending their residency at the location, adding an extra 11 dates to the run.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Las Vegas Sphere had lost $98.4million (£80.5million) since opening.

Operators of the multi-billion dollar venue, owned by the company that owns Madison Square Garden, reported revenues of $118million – a figure that is down 71 per cent from a year ago, according to The New York Post.

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NME Original Article

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