Plans for London’s newest venue, the MSG Sphere, have been paused after opposition from locals. The plan to convert an undeveloped site in Stratford, East London into “a state-of-the-art music and entertainment venue” has long been protested by residents and pre-existing venues. The brains behind the venue are MSG Company, the operator of the iconic, 20,000-capacity New York City arena.
The factious venue was first given the go-ahead in March 2022 after much pushback. Locals are worried the sphere’s planned LED displays will create noise and light pollution within the area while others express concern about the strain it will put on local transportation. The Stratford station already acts as the main hub for those visiting West Ham’s 60,000-capacity stadium and the Westfield retail mall.
Entertainment company, AEG, which owns the nearby O2 Arena (and is behind events like Coachella), has also voiced their apprehension over the lack of transparency in the process.
Meanwhile, those in favor of the arena claim it will create jobs from construction—and that at least 35% of these jobs would be provided to locals—to operations, and that all jobs will be paid at least the London living wage. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has requested planning pause while parties discuss these ongoing issues.
Apart from the 21,500-capacity arena, there is a proposed separate 1,500-capacity theatre to “help support grassroots and emerging music acts,” as well as a 450-capacity restaurant and nightclub, retail spaces and cafés. Designs have also referred to outdoor facilities like a children’s playground, lounging area and gym.