New Plans For London's Huge Spherical Music Arena Unveiled

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New Plans For London's Huge Spherical Music Arena Unveiled
Photo: Madison Square Garden Company

A cathedral-sized black sphere, embedded in the middle of Stratford. There's nothing ominous about this at all...

Plans have been unveiled for a future London music arena with a capacity of 21,500 — the MSG Sphere. MSG stands for Madison Square Garden Company, the team behind New York's famous venue. It wants to get its claws into London, and sees Stratford as a target ripe for the picking. Word first emerged of the venue over a year ago, at which point it looked like a cathedral-sized floating golf ball.

The sphere won't look like a sunken nightmare version of the Epcot Centre most the time. Instead it will be covered with LED panels, broadcasting high-definition concert footage or advertisements. Because yes, the future is going to turn out like Blade Runner, and we're getting unavoidable adverts 90 metres up in the sky.

Photo: Madison Square Garden Company

There are questions about the necessity of such a venue in London. The city already has the O2 Arena and the Wembley Arena, to cater for such events. However in the structure's planning document, MSG Company argues that New York has seven sizeable arenas that can host world tours, and has a similar population base to London. This seems to be failing to take into account that Wembley, the Emirates and the new Tottenham Hotspur stadiums are all viable options for some of the biggest music acts in the world.

The venue aims to be more than a music arena as the planning document also outlines its uses for theatre, immersive cinema, conferences, corporate events, ring sports and e-sports events. It also will contain a smaller music venue with a capacity of 500, which aims to support grassroots music.

Where the Sphere will fit into Stratford, on a 1.9 hectare site that's currently a disused coach park. Photos: Madison Square Garden Company

This isn't the only archaeologically brazen music venue that's currently planned for London. There's also The Centre For Music and its bold ziggurat design. Is this the future for London? Architecturally gimmicky venues?

The MSG Sphere is only at the planning stage so there's still a lot that can change, but it has support from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, which will be a boon to its chances of being built.

Some have voiced criticisms of the new venue, arguing it will block sunlight out of the area, and the brownfield site could instead be used to provide London with desperately needed houses. There's a petition against the venue started by local residents, who also worry that the Sphere will cause overcrowding in an already-heaving area.

Not to end on a sour note, but one Twitter user pointed out the Sphere's design similarities to the a scene of massive destruction from Japanese cult-classic Akira and now we can't un-see it.

Got an opinion on the MSG Sphere? Sound off in the comments below.

Last Updated 27 March 2019