In the weeks following the opening of the new Sphere at the Venetian in Las Vegas, the venue has received high praise. Many believe it has positively transformed the cityscape and is poised to provide an economic boost. However, the proposed location for the second Sphere has sparked significant controversy among Londoners.
Two weeks after the venue’s inaugural opening in Vegas, the second Sphere is set to be approximately 300 feet tall and 400 feet wide, around 20% smaller than the original. While it may be a little less imposing than its $2.3 billion predecessor, the venue will still compete closely with the iconic height of London’s Big Ben and will accommodate around 18,000 attendees.
The venue is planned to rise against the backdrop of Stratford, a residential area and home to the University of East London. It is here that the Sphere has met opposition. Over 3,000 signatures have been collected by a local activist group, “Stop The MSG Sphere London,” on a Change.org petition. Critics argue that the venue will cause disruption to the town’s infrastructure and impede sunlight to several residential blocks.
“A second Sphere might work in Vegas, but its design is incompatible with a small residential site like Stratford,” explained Lindesay Mace, spokesperson for the activist group. Mace highlighted the insensitivity of the developers in their response to such concerns, offering nothing more than blackout blinds for impacted residents.
The sphere’s proximity to the O2 Arena has also stirred resentment among competitors, with conglomerate AEG publically declaring their disapproval.
However, not all feedback has been negative. According to officials from MSG Sphere London, an earlier poll of over 1,000 Stratford residents found that 85% were in favor of the Sphere’s construction. Supporters cited potential job creation and significant investment in the local economy as key benefits.
Planning approval has already been granted by the London Legacy Development Corporation in March 2022, though the approval was conditional—requiring agreement on a five-year review of the building’s advertising. This decision has not been finalized and is further compounded by more recent hindrances. An approval vote was reportedly postponed by Michael Gove, Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the mayor of London, Sadik Khan, has yet to sign off on the project.
As the wave of criticism and support ebbs and flows, it remains to be seen whether the Sphere will find a second home in London, a city known for its iconic skyline. If it does, London’s residents will have to adjust to a new, illuminated addition to their horizon.