London Development Approves MSG Sphere Venue

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022

Despite thousands of objections, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has recently approved plans (in a vote of six to four) for music and esports arena MSG Sphere, a live entertainment concept from New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) company.

“The applications have been subject to robust review and a detailed officer report,” said an LLDC spokesperson. “Following careful consideration, the independent Planning Decisions Committee has approved granting full planning permission for the MSG Sphere, subject to conditions.”

Designed by architecture studio Populous, the massive structure is slated to be as wide as the London Eye and as tall as Big Ben. Once completed, the MSG Sphere will be the largest indoor venue in London.

About the Project

Much like the venue currently being constructed in Las Vegas, though slightly varied in size, the London MSG Sphere’s exterior will be covered in five acres of programmable LED screens and will rise from a podium building containing shops, restaurants and a nightclub.

Inside the 90-meter-high (about 295 feet) structure, visitors will be met with an “immersive LED surface,” designed specifically for esports and immersive experiences. And, because the London MSG Sphere is slated to be larger than its American counterparts, the interior display is expected to be the biggest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world.

The interior will also be decked out in an “infrasound haptic system” of vibrating floors and “beamforming” audio technology.

“MSG Sphere London is a natural fit for events such as esports, where audiences will be able to participate in the competition and interact with each other,” MSG said in a statement when the project was first revealed.

“It represents an important milestone in the company's vision to redefine live entertainment through iconic venues that will feature game-changing technologies and pioneer the next generation of transformative, immersive experiences.”

The venue is slated to have a capacity of 21,500 with 17,566 seats.

Since the agreement of Section 106 planning obligations, the application now heads to the London mayor’s office for final approval. If given the greenlight, the spherical venue will be constructed on a triangular lot between Olympic Park and Stratford Station in east London.

Las Vegas MSG Sphere Updates

Some months ago, in February, construction crews at the $1.9 billion MSG Sphere were reported to have dodged ongoing supply chain issues. However, officials were preparing for potential problems as LED and various electronic installation stages were approaching on the project’s timeline.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, although MSG Entertainment experienced some issues amidst the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant, construction managed to make significant strides and remains on track for completion next year.

“Of course, there are some uncertainties to work through regarding electronics, for example. But our team is doing all we can to manage through it in every single detail,” said David Byrnes, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of MSG Entertainment at the time. “We’re aggressively managing every aspect of the project, we feel good about where we are and we continue to be really excited about opening the venue in the second half of 2023.”

Andrew Lustgarten, President of MSG Entertainment, was also quoted in telling reporters that the Sphere was approaching the midway point of building the 366-foot-tall exosphere. Once completed, the exterior will be wrapped in an open-air trellis structure, holding 580,000 square feet of programmable LED lighting surface.

Since breaking ground in 2018, the project has progressively made strides in construction apart from avoiding pandemic-related setbacks.

In February 2020, the world’s fourth-largest crawler crane arrived onsite from Belgium to aid in the sphere’s construction. The crane, dubbed the DEMAG CC-8800, can extend 580 feet high and weighs 869 tons. The crane can also rotate 360 degrees.

That August, officials confirmed a new construction schedule for the DEMAG, which included three main tasks: superstructure concrete work, structural steel and the building of the steel-domed roof.

In October, MSG Entertainment confirmed that a pair of steel girders (a combined 240 tons) were put it place. The girders span the length of the venue’s stage and support the structure’s 13,000-ton steel-domed roof—the heaviest lift of the project.

At the end of 2020, some contracts on the project shifted, as MSG Entertainment Co. announced that it was taking over construction management duties from general contractor AECOM as the company had transitioned from its role as general contractor with a new services agreement that facilitates involvement with the Sphere through the project’s completion.

In February 2021, construction of the Sphere reached a milestone with the completion of the 100-foot-diamter steel ring at the top of the structure. In order to position the giant piece, crews reportedly spent almost a month assembling it on the ground before using the DEMAG CC-8800 crane to hoist it into place.

The summer, construction crews held a “topping out” ceremony to celebrate the completion of the globular venue’s steel frame as work advanced on the exosphere framework for the 580,000 square feet of lights.

Some months later, in October, project leaders announced that construction on the domed roof would reach completion that fall. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, construction crews completed the installation of metal decking and rebar atop the skeletal dome the month prior and was preparing to pour roughly 13,000 tons of concrete to fill out the structure.

When completed, the MSG Sphere will stand 366 feet tall, and the building will be 516 feet wide at its widest point. By comparison, the nearby Palazzo tower is 642 feet high, The Venetian is 475 feet tall, and the High Roller observation wheel is 550 feet tall.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Commerial/Architectural; Design; Design - Commercial; EU; Europe; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Upcoming projects

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