MSG Sphere: D-Day comes earlier than the Trump donor battle for the large London tradition venue

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It has been taking a long time, but a decision on whether East London gets a slice of Las Vegas in the form of a state-of-the-art entertainment venue almost the size of St. Pauls may be near. The Madison Square Garden Sphere in Stratford would create 4,300 construction jobs and an additional 3,200 jobs when it opens, according to its owners.

According to MSG, which owns many US entertainment venues, the Sphere can host concerts for 21,500 people and has the largest, highest-resolution screen in the world.

However, the project, launched by James Dolan, chief executive officer of MSG, a major donor to MSG, is controversial.

When it was unveiled in 2018, the Sphere received support from then Secretary of Culture Matt Hancock and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

But since then, many local councils, many residents, and a rival entertainment giant have spoken out against it. A decision to approve the Sphere should have been made by the end of this year, after the first application was made in March 2019, but the public consultation had to be extended for a third time – until December 4 – out of concern for its impact The area.

Lyn Garner, the executive director of the London Legacy Development Corporation, whose planning committee holds the fate of the program in his hands, recently suggested that a decision be taken in January.

A rejection would be a huge setback for MSG. The company hopes to roll out the concept in other countries, but so far only has one sphere under construction in Las Vegas.

According to an independent survey by MSG, 85% of respondents supported the plan. But Lindesay Mace of Stop MSG Sphere, a group of Newham residents who fear the Sphere “will pollute the area,” described the poll as a scam. “About 80% of those surveyed hadn’t even heard of the proposal,” she said. We asked, “Did the pollsters tell you about it or showed you pictures before asking if they supported it? Have you discussed any negative aspects about the sphere? “

Light is a key concern. The sphere will have a “digital skin” that extends over a 2 hectare facade with almost 1 meter of external LEDs. MSG emphasizes that after 11 p.m. it will dim to just above dusk, but this does not calm the opponents.

“It’s just completely crazy to put a 90 by 120 meter spot of light between people’s homes,” Mace said. “It’s the wrong development for the wrong area.”

However, local residents who oppose the program believe the odds are against them, pointing out that out of 12 members of the company’s planning committee, only five are elected to community councils.

Some have also asked if London needs another huge venue. AEG, the operator of the nearby O2 arena, warns that the program would put enormous pressure on local infrastructure.

MSG points out that London only has two large-capacity indoor arenas that can host big acts – the 02 and SSE Arena Wembley – while New York has seven and Berlin, Paris and Madrid have more larger venues per person than London.

And it is claimed that the Sphere will be more than a music arena, a unique place where immersive, interactive experiences like eGaming competitions can take place.

“MSG Sphere will be a cutting-edge entertainment space supporting thousands of good jobs and bringing billions of pounds of economic benefits,” a spokesman said. “Our planning application reflects the constructive dialogue we have had with a range of stakeholders and demonstrates the careful thought that went into every aspect of our proposal.”

So far, almost 2,000 documents have been submitted to the development company for the planning application. Even so, Mace said MSG still addressed many concerns about noise, travel, air and light pollution. “MSG made a lot of ado about the consultation they did with local residents, but it feels like a battle between David and Goliath.”

• This article was changed on November 24th, 2020 because, due to a bug that occurred during the editing process, an earlier version stated that the Sphere will have 36m of external LEDs. The correct number is almost 1m.