London mayor blocks MSG boss James Dolan’s plans for Sphere

Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan’s plan to replicate his Sphere arena in Las Vegas with a new project in London has been vetoed by the city’s mayor — who blasted the giant, orb-shaped venue as “bulky, unduly dominant and incongruous.”

Sadiq Khan put the kibosh on a proposal to build the 21,500-seat arena in Stratford, an economically depressed part of east London, after residents there complained that the 1.2 million LED screens that make up the exterior of the Sphere would be disruptive.

Khan’s office said in a statement that it responded to residents’ concerns over the environmental impact of the venue — namely “light pollution” and a large carbon footprint due to what is expected to be heightened demand for electricity.

“London is open to investment from around the world and Sadiq wants to see more world-class, ambitious, innovative entertainment venues in our city,” a spokesperson for the mayor told the UK-based news outlet The Independent.

“But as part of looking at the planning application for the MSG Sphere, the Mayor has seen independent evidence that shows the current proposals would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents.”

A proposal to build a replica of Sphere, the Las Vegas-based orb-shaped concert venue, in London has been rejected.

Some residents told The Independent that construction of the venue would have prompted them to leave the area.

Others, however, said it would have been an engine for economic activity that would benefit local businesses.

Sphere Entertainment Company, the owner and operator of the venue, said that the project would generate 2,200 jobs while adding some $2 billion to the London economy.

Local residents would reap the fruits of $50 million in annual revenue generated by the proposed site, according to the company.

A spokesperson for the company told The Independent: “While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a Sphere in the eastern part of the city would be “bulky, unduly dominant and incongruous.”

The Post has sought comment from Sphere Entertainment.

Sphere, which was built on the grounds of the Venetian hotel just east of the Las Vegas Strip, opened in late September to rave reviews.

The 580,000-square-foot structure was christened with a concert by Irish rock band U2, which is doing a month-long residency at the venue.

But construction of the project came at enormous cost for Dolan, who spent $2.3 billion to build the site — or $1 billion more than what was originally planned.

The cost overruns forced Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Entertainment to lay off workers and sell its stake in Tao Group Hospitality.

Dolan, who is eager to draw major headline acts to Sphere, is also reported to have cut a $10 million check to U2 and promised the Irish rockers 90% of the ticket revenue generated by their 36-show residency.

James Dolan, the owner of Sphere Entertainment, spent more than $2 billion to build the venue in Las Vegas.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Knicks and Rangers owner also has his eye on pop star Beyoncé as the next A-list performer who might take up residency at the Sphere.

The Post reported last week that the star’s husband, Jay-Z, and her “momager” Tina Knowles toured the facility recently as part of Dolan’s efforts to woo the “Single Ladies” crooner.

Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga are also said to be among the names that Dolan is hoping to land for his venue.

So far, Sphere has been a money-losing enterprise. In the most recent quarter ending Sept. 30, Sphere lost $98.4 million.

The venue makes very little from concert tickets because the star acts get guaranteed revenue.

Instead, profits are generated from suite sales and selling advertising on the LED screens that wrap the inside and outside of the ball-shaped arena.

Additional Reporting by Josh Kosman

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