Madison Square Garden’s plans to open a “next generation” venue in London venue have moved a step closer to reality with the New York-based company submitting a planning application for what will be the U.K.’s biggest concert arena.
The venue — called MSG Sphere London — will be the company’s first outside of the United States and, if approved, would support over 3,000 jobs each year and generate £2.7 billion for the U.K. economy over a 20 year period, according to a study by economic consultancies EY and Volterra, commissioned by MSG.
Designed by Populous, the same architecture firm behind Wembley Stadium and the previously-announced MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, the 21,500-capacity venue will be based on a five-acre plot of land in Stratford, East London, adjacent to the Olympic Park.
The site was used as a temporary coach park during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but had been left empty for years until MSG purchased it for around £60 million (approx. $84 million). The company, whose venue portfolio includes New York’s Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall and the Forum in California, says their plans will “transform this abandoned site into a thriving world-class destination.”
“This is an opportunity to take an inaccessible coach park and use it to support thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic benefit,” said Jayne McGivern, MSG’s evp of development and construction, in a statement.
“If our plans are approved, we believe MSG Sphere will complement London’s existing venues and drive overall growth in the music and entertainment market – benefiting residents, artists and fans,” said McGivern.
Included in MSG’s planning application are more details about the venue, which mirrors the crystal-ball-style design of the MSG Sphere Las Vegas and would have a diameter of 120 metres. At its highest point, the venue would be 90 meters tall. It would also feature a fully-programmable LED exterior and ultra-high definition 15,000 square-meter interior displays, used to create immersive sensory experiences for audiences, as well as advertising and partnership branding.
Inside, the venue will have a scalable capacity of up to 17,566 seated, or 21,500 with a mix of seated and standing, making it the U.K.’s biggest concert arena. Its nearest rival, London’s The O2, located just five miles away, has a maximum capacity of 20,000, while the Manchester Arena, can fit in 21,000 people.
MSG says the venue’s adaptive acoustics system will deliver crystal clear audio to every guest, no matter the size or format of event, while its infrasound haptic floor will enable guests to feel the music through bass vibrations. Wireless connectivity delivering 25 megabits per second will also be on offer.
As well as music concerts, esports, award shows and ring sports like boxing and UFC are mentioned in the planning documents as being ideally suited to the Sphere’s cutting-edge design. The building will also contain a separate 1,500-capacity venue, 450-capacity restaurant and nightclub, cafes and retail spaces.
Following MSG’s planning application, AEG released a statement questioning “whether such a venue should be located so close to existing venues at the Olympic Park – such as the London Stadium and Copper Box” as well as its own The O2 arena, London’s busiest concert venue.
“We will be scrutinising the application very carefully given concerns as to the detrimental impact of their plans,” said an AEG spokesperson, adding, “it is imperative that Madison Square Garden’s proposals do not add to congestion in the area.”