Attractions industry news

12 Feb 2018

Madison Square Garden Company reveals dramatic plans for 'the future of live entertainment' in London

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has announced ambitious plans to bring a vast, spherical music and entertainment venue to London, and claims it will “change the nature of live events.”

Making the announcement at a presentation in New York, MSG’s executive chair and CEO, James L. Dolan, confirmed the company intends to make the UK capital the home of its first international property, and has completed the purchase of land totalling nearly five acres in Stratford, London, next to Westfield Stratford City shopping centre.

International architects Populous are behind the striking design of the MSG Sphere – described by MSG as “the future of live entertainment” – a version of which has already been announced for a site in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to the company, each of its Spheres will be equipped “with game-changing technologies that push the limits of connectivity, acoustics, video and content distribution to create powerful, immersive, multi-sensory environments that will transport audiences.”

Specifically, it said it will boast:

• A programmable exterior that can serve as a digital showcase for brands, artists, events and partners

• An interior bowl that features the largest and highest resolution media display on Earth

• A custom spherical camera system capable of capturing, curating and distributing both today’s and tomorrow’s content

• A dynamically adaptive acoustics system that will deliver crystal clear audio to every guest, no matter the size or type of event

• A new architecture that will set a new standard for wireless connectivity

Designs for MSG Sphere London, including seating capacity, are still in their early stages and will be announced in the coming months, with the final plans subject to consultation. However, preliminary plans for the Las Vegas Sphere outline a scalable capacity of more than 18,000 seats, all of which will be in front of the stage, and up to 5,000 standing spaces.

According to research published by professional services consultant EY, cited by MSG to support its plans, the MSG Sphere London would support approximately 3,200 jobs annually, contribute £2.7bn (US$3.7bn, €3bn) to the UK economy over the initial 20 years of operations, and generate additional revenues of over £50m (US$69m, €56.3m) every year for local businesses. MSG research, carried out by Sound Diplomacy, has found that London has fewer large arenas relative to population size than other major cities, including Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and New York, and that the UK’s capital is well-placed to welcome a new arena

“We believe that a large-scale, next-generation venue will not only become a premier destination, but also drive growth in London’s overall music and entertainment market – benefiting artists and fans, and serving as a long-term investment in the future of this incredible city,” said Dolan. “MSG Sphere will provide a home where like-minded communities can come together to not only interact with the performance, but also with each other.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, added: "From intimate grassroots music venues to spectacular arenas, London's buzzing live music scene is world-renowned. It’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, to confirm London's position as a music powerhouse and to boost still further our city's thriving night-time economy."

In addition to its plans to build in Las Vegas, MSG’s venues include New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, California; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston.

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