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MSG's New Sphere Venue Gets One-Step Closer as AEG Comments on Latest Developments

MSG’s New Sphere Venue Gets One-Step Closer as AEG Comments on Latest Developments

Artist Rendering-MSG Sphere (Photo: The Madison Square Garden Company)
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LONDON (CelebrityAccess) – Entertainment giant AEG has commented on a decision by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to approve plans by its rival MSG regarding the digital displays that will cover the new Sphere venue set to be built in London.

There has been plenty of controversy surrounding MSG’s plan to build the Sphere venue, modeled after the one due to open in Las Vegas this year. The Sphere’s location next to London’s Olympic Park has been a source of contention. However, the LLDC (the current planning authority around Olympic Park) approved the project in March 2022.

There are already two significant venues in the Olympic Park area (London Stadium and Copper Box). Not to mention, the AEG-operated O2 Arena is also close by. There are fears that, if there are days when events happen in all those spaces, as well as the new Sphere, local travel infrastructure won’t be able to cope.

The other big issue is the design of the Sphere, which would be as tall as Big Ben. Local councils and residents have long opposed the 21,500-capacity arena – calling it a “glowing orb,” and a “monstrosity.”

Although the LLDC approved the Sphere project in 2022, there were still issues to be worked out regarding the digital display. MSG was granted a 25-year advertising consent allowing it to utilize the outside LED-covered walls, however, that was conditional pending “appropriate controls to ensure that any unforeseen health and well-being impacts could be addressed should they arise.”

Lyn Brown, the Labor MP for West Ham, called on the LLDC to use its “last chance” to block the development of the Sphere, whose outside will be covered with more than 1 million LEDs and show advertisements and videos from dawn till late.

“The proposed development is a monstrosity,” said Brown, adding the meeting was “the LLDC’s last chance to demonstrate they can prioritize residents’ health and well-being over MSG’s interests and profits”.

MSG’s proposals for those specifics were discussed at a meeting held by the LLDC on Tuesday (January 24). MSG says it will provide blackout blinds to homes within 150 meters of the new venue and will operate a specific telephone line via which residents can file any complaints.

Alistair Wood, executive vice president for real estate and development at AEG Europe, called on the LLDC to refuse MSG’s advertising strategy: “The advertising facade is at a wholly unprecedented scale for London and totally out of keeping with the surrounding area.”

The committee ultimately decided to accept MSG’s proposals regarding the digital displays. The project will now find its way to the desk of London’s mayor for final approval. Those opposed to the venue, AEG included, are now calling on the mayor to veto the entire project.

Local councils, including Newham, where the Sphere would be built, have long opposed the project, and residents joined forces to create a group called Stop MSG Sphere. During the LLDC meeting, The Guardian reports a local resident saying it will be like “living next to the surface of the sun.”

AEG said in a statement last night:

“We are dismayed by the LLDC’s on to sign off the MSG Sphere’s advertising strategy for its digital display in the face of strong objections from Newham Council, neighbouring east London boroughs, the Royal Borough Of Greenwich, the local MP, rail operators, Transport For London, Historic England and hundreds of local residents, some of whom are represented by local campaign group Stop MSG”.

“We call on the mayor of London to uphold his election promise to do what’s best for Londoners, including the residents of Newham who are having this huge development forced on them, by directing refusal of the planning application.”

“We have concluded that there are at least ten problems with the MSG Sphere’s proposed controls for the advertising display”, it continued. “Fundamentally, regardless of the findings of a review after five years, no matter how damaging and intrusive the light pollution is to the health of residents or dangerous to rail or road users, the advertisement consent will not be revoked”.

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