MSG Abandons Plans To Replicate The Vegas Sphere In London

January 9, 2024 by Dave Haynes

It appears any aspirations to replicate the Las Vegas Sphere in London, UK  have been abandoned – with news that Madison Square Garden (MSG), the parent company of Sphere Entertainment, has withdrawn its planning application.

The company has complained that the project had become a political football, and it was evidently not enjoying being kicked around.

The news organization Sky News has reported that MSG has “written to British officials to notify them that it is pulling out of a process overseen by the Planning Inspectorate.”

Stadium Business also has a detailed report …

London’s mayor had already said no to a plan that would have seen a 300-foot-tall orb like the one in Vegas rising up just east of the big Westfield-owned Stratford Shopping Centre, maybe a 15-20 minute Tube ride straight east from central London. The Sphere there would have been in close proximity to residential housing, and unavoidably produce a lot of light pollution.

There were also concerns about noise, but that’s already a super-busy area with major rail lines and lots of facilities associated with the 2012 Olympics events.

The project had both supporters and detractors – with boosters liking the usual things such as new jobs, construction work, tourism and so on.

Supporters also worried that refusing the development sends the wrong message to investors – domestic and foreign – about trying new things in London and elsewhere.

It’s certainly easy to appreciate how people living out that way weren’t enthused about their living quarters being illuminated by a big old LED light ball each evening. I don’t think people want to spend their evenings with blackout shades down. While outdoor billboards have some engineering designs – like louvres – that can reduce light pollution, I don’t get a sense that would/could work with the was the Sphere is engineered.

A much more likely home for this sort of thing is Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Riyadh, or any number of Chinese mega-cities where local planning hurdles are maybe not all that high or difficult to clear. A look at city skylines in China shows central business districts that have office towers doubling up at night as billboards and ambient light shows.

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