London’s Populous-designed Sphere is a no go. A letter submitted to the United Kingdom’s Planning Inspectorate yesterday from Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment stated the company’s intention to withdraw its application to build an LED-clad, sphere-shaped entertainment venue, similar to the one in Las Vegas, in London’s Stratford neighborhood.
The letter, reviewed by AN, stated: “After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a 5-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.”
The news of the withdrawn planning application follows a rejection of the proposed entertainment venue from London Mayor Sadiq Khan in November. Khan’s view echoed that of a report on the proposed design commissioned by the Greater London Authority (GLA). The report executed by engineering firm WSP found that the proposed building “will be likely to have significant adverse effects on occupiers of premises and the night-time environment.”
Despite Khan’s rejection, whether or not the illuminated structure would be built was subject to a ruling by Michael Gove, U.K. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. In light of this latest development, Gove’s review of the proposal will not happen. In a statement provided to AN, a spokesperson for Sphere Entertainment, a spin-off company of MSG, said: “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.”
Sphere Entertainment added in its statement that it will consider alternative locations around the globe for the construction of another Sphere. “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,” the statement continued.
Among the locations rumored to be getting their sphere counterpart is Hanam, South Korea, a city east of Seoul.