Designs for London’s MSG Sphere revealed

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MSG Sphere London Image: MSG / Populous

Details and designs have been revealed for the MSG Sphere London, which is poised to become the UK’s largest concert arena with a capacity of 21,500, outstripping Manchester Arena (capacity 21,000) and London’s O2 Arena (20,000).

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which is behind the New York concert and sports venue of the same name, have bought a 1.9-hectare (4.7-acre) site in Stratford, adjacent to the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre, that was used as a coach park during the 2012 London Olympics, The Guardian newspaper reported.

MSG has now filed planning documents, following an announcement of its plans in February 2018. Those plans received support from then-culture secretary Matt Hancock and London mayor Sadiq Khan, the London-based newspaper reported.

The arena, housed in a vast spherical structure, would seat 17,566 people, or hold 21,500 with a mix of seated and standing options. It is designed by Populous, the architecture firm behind Wembley Stadium. Initial “golf ball” designs have developed into a more embedded structure. According to the planning document, the sphere will be covered in LED panels that can display high-definition concert footage or advertising images – the designs suggest that the imagery will be clearly visible 150 metres away.

The structure is designed to be 120 metres wide and 90 metres high – slightly shorter than the central tower of Tate Modern. The designs show that the main concert venue would be a clamshell shape, with curved seating facing a stage on one side. As well as traditional concerts, the documents suggest that awards shows, circus events, e-sports events and ring sports such as boxing or UFC could be held there.

The MSG Sphere will also host a separate 1,500-capacity venue, that “will help support grassroots and emerging music acts”, plus a 450-capacity restaurant and nightclub, cafes and retail spaces. Another huge LED screen will also be installed on the inside of the concert hall’s curved walls, allowing for “immersive” performances and augmented reality. Four new bridges would connect the structure to the surrounding area.

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