Potential rivals square up over bid to build MSG Sphere in Stratford
PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 March 2020
A row has erupted between the owner of The O2 Arena and a potential rival entertainment company which wants to build a 21,500 capacity venue.
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) claims the team behind a bid to build a 90 metre tall MSG Sphere in Stratford “grossly misrepresents” the golf ball shaped hub’s visual impact.
AEG also challenged Madison Square Garden’s assessment of the effects of a proposed illuminated surface on people living in buildings surrounding the proposed site on 4.7 acres west of Angel Lane.
AEG submitted images and video to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) – which will decide planning permission for the bid – which it says show how the sphere will be experienced by neighbours.
It also accuses MSG of not suggesting any controls on content displayed over the sphere’s surface other than a pledge not to display ads 50 per cent of the time it is illuminated.
However, in a letter to LLDC’s director of planning, MSG sets out measures including limiting light strengths, excluding flashing imagery and pledging ads will comply with Advertising Standards Authority rules.
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An AEG spokesman said: “We do not want the sphere to be constructed at the proposed site and remain of the view it will have a negative impact on the local area which includes The O2 Arena.”
But a spokesman for MSG said that the things raised in AEG’s submission are already being discussed between its team, stakeholders and potential new neighbours.
“It’s disappointing that after many months of working closely with local stakeholders to listen to their concerns and revise our plans, there are parties who would seek to deliberately spread misleading information to inhibit a venue that will deliver significant benefits.
“We will continue to work together with all interested stakeholders to bring MSG Sphere to Stratford and create a thriving destination that supports thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of economic benefit,” he added.
However, AEG rejected “any notion” its images are inaccurate, adding MSG did not include comparable pictures as part of its bid. The company’s spokesman called on MSG to explain why.
“We would also encourage them to produce images they believe to be accurate as part of their own planning submission, so independent analysis can be sought on which images are more realistic,” he added.
MSG did not respond to AEG’s call.