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Proposed new Stratford arena could be ‘greatest venue in the world’

PUBLISHED: 14:22 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:29 22 March 2018

MSG Sphere will be located next to Stratford station Picture: MSG

MSG Sphere will be located next to Stratford station Picture: MSG

MSG

An innovative new arena in Stratford could be “the greatest venue in the world”, according to the president of the company behind it.

The MSG Sphere could become part of the Stratford skyline Picture: MSG The MSG Sphere could become part of the Stratford skyline Picture: MSG

“We want new forms of experiences that we don’t even know about,” said Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) boss Andy Lustgarten.

“We view this as an entertainment venue not as a music venue.

“We look to take the best of what we’ve learnt in New York, Vegas, LA, and create the greatest venue in the world.”

The company has bought nearly five acres of land close to Stratford station and showcased its plans for the site - as well as some of the futuristic technology it wants to bring to east London - during an event at the Copper Box Arena last night.

Audiences will be immersed in multi-sensory environments Picture: MSG Audiences will be immersed in multi-sensory environments Picture: MSG

Early plans for the MSG Sphere suggest it will have around 18,000 seats.

Guests will be able to enjoy live music like never before, feeling the bass through a vibrating floor and an audio system designed to keep the sound the same throughout and target it with such accuracy that a visitor could hear the performance in a different language to the person next to them.

Central to the sphere will be a screen that is more than 60m high and 100m wide, designed to create an immersive environment.

The sphere would be located next to Stratford station, bordered by two railway lines as well as Leyton Road and Penny Brookes Street.

Concept art shows that it would be accessible by a connecting footbridge branching out from the existing footbridge linking Meridian Square to Westfiend Stratford City.

MSG’s executive vice president of development and construction, Jayne McGivern, said: “We have a lot of work to do that is nothing to do with the building. We have to construct some bridges over railways and build a podium to bring the site to grade and then build the building on the podium.”

She described Stratford as “really vibrant, really developing”, adding: “The whole cultural quarter element we found enticing and fitted perfectly with what we wanted to do.”

A planning application is due to be submitted towards the end of the year, and subject to approval, an estimated three years of work on the site could start as early as next summer.

“During construction we think there’ll be about 3,000 jobs per annum on site, and then post construction, we’ll have many thousands of permanent full time jobs here,” Ms McGivern added.

“One of the reasons we chose Stratford and Newham is that we see a labour force there. We’re ready to train them and engage them and employ them.”

The sphere will be constructed in a modular way, assembled rather than built, in order to reduce the amount of time spent on site.

If the plans are approved, it will see two music venues with the capacity to hold thousands of fans situated just three stops apart on the Jubilee line.

A spokesman for AEG, the venue operators of The O2 Arena, said that the company “understands competition in the live music industry and does not oppose the principle of a new music venue in London”.

He added: “However, there is a question mark over whether such a venue should be located in east London 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.

“It is imperative that MSG’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.”

But Ms McGivern said that the infrastructure would “absolutely” be able to cope.

“We looked at this very carefully,” she said. “We want everybody coming to our fabulous venue to have a great time, and that includes getting there.

“Stratford is clearly a happening spot, so busy, but we think that the capacity is more than adequate to cater for the venue.”

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