Plans to build a massive MSG Sphere venue in Stratford, East London, have been rejected by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
The proposed building of the venue had been met with significant resistance from local residents, institutions and councillors due to concerns about the health risks and disruption caused by the estimated 1,000,000 LED light bulbs and bright advertisements on its exterior, as well as strains on local infrastructure.
Sadiq Khan has sided with locals and rejected the plans at his stage 2 decision, the planning stage it moved into last year.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London 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.”
A statement from a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson 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.”
Plans to build the 21,500 capacity venue were initially proposed in 2018, and designs revealed the following year, after MSG bought a 4.7 acre site in East London that had been used as a coach park during the London 2012 Olympics and sat empty since.
Designed by architectural firm Populous, who designed the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium, The MSG Sphere would have been nearly the same height as London’s Big Ben (90 meters) and have a diameter of the London Eye (120meters).
It had promised to create 1,2000 jobs, and provide the English capital with a third major concert arena to add to the OVO Arena Wembley and The O2 Arena in Greenwich, saying it would offer “a state-of-the-art music and entertainment venue that will pioneer the next generation of immersive experiences.”
The MSG Company had also promised to provide blackout blinds to homes within 150 metres of the venue, as well as those with a direct view of it, and set up a telephone line for complaints.
Nate Higgins, the local Green Party Councillor for Stratford Olympic Park, shared a statement on Facebook, writing: “Absolutely delighted to share that our campaigning on behalf of residents in Stratford Olympic Park alongside Against the MSG Sphere London has paid off, and Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London has today rejected the MSG Sphere planning application in his stage 2 decision.
He added: “London's cultural venues are incredibly important, but this application was always completely inappropriate for the site and the 25 year advertising consent the applicants demanded show they were not interested in contributing to our capital's cultural scene – only bombarding the residents of Stratford with endless advertising.
“We'll have more to say in the coming weeks about what happens next, but this incredible victory goes to show the value of community organising and listening to residents. As the local councillors, we'll never stop doing that.”
West Ham MP Lyn Brown also opposed the plan, calling it a "monstrosity" and expressing concern that it will put further strain on local transportation, particularly the Stratford station, which currently serves visitors to the Westfield retail mall and West Ham's 60,000-seater stadium.
It cost $2.3 billion to build and reported a loss of $98.4 million against projected revenues since opening in November, with the venue's CFO Gautam Ranji quitting his post amid reports of "yelling and screaming" from billionaire MSG CEO James Dolan.
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Editor & Digital Director, follow him on Twitter