The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has announced plans for a new music venue in London, following plans for a similar shaped venue to be built in Las Vegas. The venue, which has a proposed capacity of 18,000 seats and 5,000 standing, takes the shape of a giant glazed orb-like sphere and is planned to sit next to the Olympic Park in east London.
Designs for the venue are not currently finalised but The Guardian reports confirmation of the proposal took place on Friday (9 February), also reporting in January that MSG have commissioned architects Populous — designers of the London Olympic Stadium — to create the sphere. Plans for a similar venue in Las Vegas suggest that the futuristic design of the building will allow for immersive experiences, including a roof that can be used as a screen for projections. MSG’s company chief James Dolan pointed out the need for venues to have digital technology in mind explaining: “No longer is the venue a place to spectate. It’s a place to go and participate.” James Dolan also cites Ray Bradbury’s science fiction short, The Veldt, as an inspiration for the venue. If built, the venue will be the next addition to London’s skyline proposed at the height of 130m, making it taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.
A planning application has not been submitted yet but the proposed venue has already caused controversy due to MSG’s James Dolan being an ex-associate of Harvey Weinstein and supporter of Donald Trump, pledging a reported $300,000 to the president’s fundraising committee Trump Victory. It is also expected that campaigners will oppose MSG’s proposal due to the shortage of housing in the area.
Despite these issues, the proposal has already received the support of London’s assembly member for City and East Unmesh Desai, and the mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The mayor’s support will come as a surprise to many considering his previous clashes with Donald Trump, but in a statement released with the proposal he says: “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 his position as mayor Sadiq Khan has been vocal about protecting London’s nightlife from developers. Although MSG’s sphere will support 3,200 jobs, strategic director of the Music Venue Trust Beverley Whitrick points out that there will be a moral objection. “We all know that the music community does not support Donald Trump. A lot of musicians and audience members will feel uncomfortable. It is also a bizarre idea that this is what London needs.”
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