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MSG reveals more about its planned London venue, AEG raises concerns

By | Published on Thursday 28 March 2019

Madison Square Garden Company

The Madison Square Garden Company has submitted its planning application for the new London venue it is proposing to build, the American company’s first venue complex outside the US.

MSG first unveiled its plans last year to construct a musical bubble in Stratford, East London, with the high-tech performance space set to mirror one it is already building in Las Vegas. Called the MSG Sphere, the plan is for the new complex to have all sorts of VR and AR gubbins in built.

Specifics in this week’s planning application include, according to IQ, that the new venue will be built on a site used as a coach park during the London 2012 Olympics and will seat 17,500, with an upper capacity of 21,500 for partially standing shows. A smaller clubby venue, café, restaurant and some nicely sculpted outdoor spaces will also be constructed.

Bigging up the project, MSG’s EVP Of Development And Construction, Jayne McGivern, has said: “This is an opportunity to take an inaccessible coach park and use it to support thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic benefit. Our plans make training and local hiring a priority, and would create a premiere destination that serves as a long-term investment in the future of [London borough] Newham, London and the UK”.

Of course, by picking Stratford for its first UK project, MSG is proposing to plonk a new venue alongside the existing spaces in London’s Olympic Park and just three tube stops down from AEG’s O2 dome complex. Some would argue that you can never have too much entertainment on the east side of town. Some would argue that one more bubble is too much.

The latter group includes AEG, which responded to the planning papers by saying that – while obviously it thinks competition is a magnificent thing and therefore it would never oppose the principle of another new music venue in London – it thinks this plan is dog shit.

Well, I’m paraphrasing a little. “There is a question mark”, it said yesterday “over whether such a venue should be located so close to existing venues at the Olympic Park – such as the London Stadium and Copper Box – as well as AEG’s own nearby venue, The O2 Arena, and we will be scrutinising the application very carefully given concerns as to the detrimental impact of their plans”.

The AEG statement went on: “It is imperative that Madison Square Garden’s proposals do not add to congestion in the area, especially on the Jubilee Line which is critical for the movement of guests to and from The O2 Arena. AEG always strives to ensure that its guests have the best possible experience when they visit our venues and we will work with local stakeholders to scrutinise the application in detail and ensure MSG’s plans do not affect this”.