A Giant Spherical Concert Venue Dubbed the 'Golf Ball' Is Planned for East London

Courtesy of MSG
Courtesy of MSG
Photo of Charlotte Luxford
Architecture & Design Editor15 February 2018

A state-of-the-art music venue is coming to Stratford, London. The ‘Golf Ball’ will rival the city’s existing largest indoor venue, the O2 arena, and could even be taller than St Paul’s Cathedral when completed.

The firm behind the innovative design is Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which is known for its iconic New York City concert and events venue, and it’s been rumoured that it has commissioned London-based architect Populous, the firm currently working on Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

MSG is bringing a breathtaking, next-generation venue to Las Vegas – with plans to break ground in the second half of 2018 | Courtesy of MSG

As well as London, MSG also has designs for a new venue in Las Vegas, with the next-generation entertainment sites being known as ‘MSG Spheres’. London will be MSG’s first international venue, with the company purchasing almost five acres of prime land right next to the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre and the Olympic Park in Stratford. London was chosen after research carried out by Sound Diplomacy on behalf of MSG revealed that the city has fewer large-capacity arenas relative to its population, compared to other major cities including Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and New York.

MSG Sphere will pioneer the incredible, immersive experiences that fully transport audiences to another place, whether it’s a lush forest or the desert | Courtesy of MSG

‘London is one of the world’s greatest cities, and we are delighted to be taking this first step towards making it the location for MSG’s first international venue,’ said MSG’s Executive Chairman and CEO, James L. Dolan. ‘We believe that a large-scale, next-generation venue will not only become a premier destination, but also drive growth in London’s overall music and entertainment market – benefiting artists and fans, and serving as a long-term investment in the future of this incredible city.’

The ‘Golf Ball’ would have a huge impact on the city’s skyline, joining the Walkie Talkie, Gherkin and the Shard, and could stand at around 130 metres tall, which would make it almost 20 metres taller than St Paul’s Cathedral.

Audiences will be immersed in multi-sensory environments | Courtesy of MSG

The glass orb will be ‘equipped with game-changing technologies that push the limits of connectivity, acoustics, video, and content distribution,’ according to MSG, with the idea that audiences will be able to enjoy powerful and immersive multi-sensory experiences that will transform live events in future.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘From intimate grassroots music venues to spectacular arenas, London’s buzzing live music scene is world-renowned. It’s great to welcome another world-class venue to the capital, to confirm London’s position as a music powerhouse and to boost still further our city’s thriving night-time economy.’

With inside-out video capture, MSG will take what’s happening inside the building – such as a concert – and play it on the exterior of the building, for a much larger audience | Courtesy of MSG

The new MSG Sphere in London could bring £2.7bn to the UK economy over the first 20 years and should create around 3,200 jobs annually. Preliminary plans have already been released for the first MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, which can hold as many as 23,000 people – 18,000 seated and 5,000 standing. The London sphere is based on the same concept so it could potentially seat a similar number; the exact capacity will be announced in coming months as the final plans are subject to consultation.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: ‘It’s great news that the world-famous Madison Square Garden Company has chosen London to be home for its first international venue.

‘This cements both the capital and UK’s reputation for leading the world in music and the creative industries,’ Hancock continued. ‘This ground-breaking arena in East London will not only create jobs, but help us continue to develop incredible artists, music, and innovative technology that will give fans an amazing experience.’

Further details of the MSG Sphere London are due to be released later this year – for more information, click here.