Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan’s plan to replicate his Sphere arena in Las Vegas with a new project in London has been opposed by the city’s mayor – who branded the giant orb-shaped venue “cumbersome , unduly dominant and incongruous.
Sadiq Khan has halted a proposal to build a 21,500-seat arena in Stratford, an economically deprived area of east London, after residents complained that the 1.2 million screens LEDs that make up the exterior of the Sphere would be disruptive.
Khan’s office said in a statement that it was responding to residents’ concerns about the location’s environmental impact, namely “light pollution” and a significant carbon footprint from what is expected to be increased demand for electricity.
“London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious and innovative entertainment venues in our city,” a spokesperson for the mayor told British media The Independent.
“But as part of the review of the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence which shows that the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”
Khan’s rejection represents a reversal of his previous position in favor of the project. In 2018, the mayor welcomed the project to build the spherical structure in his city.
“It’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, confirming London’s position as a music powerhouse and further boosting our city’s thriving night-time economy,” Khan said ago five years.
The Post has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.
Some residents told The Independent that the construction of the venue would have prompted them to leave the area.
Others, however, said it would have been a driver of economic activity that would benefit local businesses.
Sphere Entertainment Company, owner and operator of the venue, said the project would generate 4,000 jobs while adding some $2.5 billion to London’s economy.
Local residents would reap the benefits of $62 million in annual revenue generated by the proposed site, according to the company.
A spokesperson for Sphere Entertainment told the Post: “While we are disappointed by London’s decision, many forward-thinking cities are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will focus on these.
Sphere, which was built on the grounds of the Venetian Hotel just east of the Las Vegas Strip, opened in late September to rave reviews.
The 580,000-square-foot structure was christened with a concert by Irish rock band U2, which is performing a month-long residency there.
But building the project was enormously expensive for Dolan, who spent $2.3 billion to build the site, $1 billion more than originally planned.
Cost overruns forced Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Entertainment to lay off staff and sell its stake in Tao Group Hospitality.
Dolan, who is eager to attract Sphere’s headline acts, also reportedly handed a $10 million check to U2 and promised the Irish rockers 90 percent of the ticket revenue generated by their 36-show residency.
The Knicks and Rangers owner also has his eye on pop star Beyoncé as the next high-profile artist who could set up shop at the Sphere.
The Post reported last week that the star’s husband, Jay-Z, and “mom” Tina Knowles recently visited the establishment as part of Dolan’s efforts to woo the “Single Ladies” crooner.
Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga are also reportedly among the names Dolan hopes to attract to his venue.
Until now, Sphere has been a loss-making company. In the most recent quarter ended September 30, Sphere lost $98.4 million.
The venue earns very little from concert tickets, as featured artists receive guaranteed income.
Instead, profits are generated by selling suites and selling advertising on the LED screens that wrap the interior and exterior of the ball-shaped arena.
Additional reporting by Josh Kosman
Gn En world