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Plans for Las Vegas-style ‘Sphere’ in London officially ditched by developer

'We cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties.'

By Nick Reilly

Artist's impression of the proposed MSG Sphere, East London
An artist's impression of the proposed MSG Sphere in London. (Photo: Press)

Developers behind a planned Las Vegas style Sphere in London have withdrawn their plans for the venue, stating they could not continue in a process they described as “merely a political football between rival parties”.

In a withdrawal letter to the Planning Inspectorate, Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG) said it was “extremely disappointing” that Londoners would “not benefit from the Sphere’s groundbreaking technology and the thousands of well-paying jobs it would have created”.

They added: “On behalf of both Stratford Garden Development Limited and Sphere Entertainment, I write to confirm that we are officially withdrawing our application from the Planning Inspectorate process.

“After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a five-year planning process with numerous governmental bodies, including the local planning authority who approved our plans following careful review, we cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties.”

Plans for the venue were first scrapped by London Mayor Sadiq Khan in November 2022, before the UK government said it was considering overruling the decision. The UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove also ordered a six-week pause that allowed the government to evaluate Khan’s decision.

At the time, the Mayor sided with residents who feared an increase in light and noise pollution, as well as added pressures on the area’s infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London previously said:  “London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city.“But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

But MSG’s withdrawal means that plans for the venue are now officially dead.

Sphere Entertainment said in a statement: “We have informed Mr. Gove that our decision not to move forward with our plans for Sphere in London stands, and we will not be participating in the call-in process. We would like to thank all of those who worked earnestly to bring this project to London.

“We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with forward-thinking cities around the world who are serious about bringing this next-generation entertainment experience to their communities.”

A new proposed location is yet to be announced, but the group behind the MSG Sphere previously said they are in “serious talks” about opening a site in the United Arab Emirates.

The Las Vegas Sphere currently hosts a residency from U2.