Madison Square Garden Entertainment has officially scrapped its plans to build a futuristic Sphere venue in London’s East End.
The project, which promised cutting-edge technology and thousands of jobs, had been embroiled in a multi-year battle with local authorities and politicians, eventually becoming what MSG termed a “political football.”
“We have informed [UK cabinet minister Michael] 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,” NYSE-listed Sphere Entertainment, the parent company of MSG, said in a statement on Monday (January 8).
The proposed MSG Sphere project, which would have been a copy of the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, was designed by architecture firm Populous. It obtained approval from the London Legacy Development Corporation last year despite opposition.
“We have informed Mr. [Michael] 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.”
If built, the structure would have stood 90 meters tall and 120 meters wide, creating a 21,500-capacity music venue.
However, the project faced opposition from residents concerned about light pollution, traffic congestion, and the scale of the structure.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan in November 2023 rejected the planning application due to concerns about the Sphere’s “unacceptable negative impact on residents.”
This decision triggered a political tug-of-war. Michael Gove, the UK’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, intervened to halt Khan’s decision last month, requesting a public inquiry into the project.
However, MSG, seemingly exhausted by the political dispute, opted to walk away entirely. In a statement, the company expressed disappointment that Londoners would miss out on the Sphere’s benefits, but ultimately blamed the project’s demise on being caught in the crossfire of political agendas.
“After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a 5-year planning process with numerous governmental bodies… we cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties.”
Richard Constable, Madison Square Garden Entertainment
“After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a 5-year planning process with numerous governmental bodies, including the local planning authority who approved our plans following careful review, we cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties,” Richard Constable, EVP, Global Head of Government Affairs & Social Impact at MSG Entertainment, said in a statement.
“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,” Constable added.
Sphere Entertainment hinted at seeking more “forward-thinking” cities for their next venture.
“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,” it said.
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