London mayor rejects plans to build Las Vegas-stye Sphere venue in Stratford

A mock-up of the London Sphere
An illustration of the proposed Sphere in Stratford (Image credit: The Madison Square Garden Company)

While the groundbreaking Las Vegas Sphere may have have received almost universal acclaim since opening in October, Londoners may be denied a similar experience on their own doorstep after mayor Sadiq Khan rejected plans to build a similar venue in Stratford, East London.

Stratford is already home to the city's Olympic Stadium and the Westgate shopping complex, and studies showed that adding The Sphere to the mix would result in an "unacceptable negative impact on local residents."

The Greater London Authority had commissioned Canadian consulting firm WSP to look into the Sphere's possible impact on the area, and they concluded that the construction would cause light pollution issues for local residents. WSP were also troubled by the huge size of the building's prospective electricity bills and its lack of green credentials, as well as the the impact it would have on local heritage sites.

“Stratford is not Las Vegas," said Zack Polanski, a Green representative at the London Assembly. "It is a community of Londoners who didn’t think they’d soon live alongside a giant glowing orb."

A spokesman for Sphere Industries said, "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."

This statement suggests that the project will now find a home elsewhere, although it is understood that plans to build The Sphere in East London could still go through, as the application still has to pass to Communities Secretary Michael Gove for a final ruling.

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sphere – currently hosting a multi-month U2 residency – continues to attract attention, with CEO James Dolan saying, "We’re having conversations with artists across a wide variety of genres, including discussing runs of varying lengths. We expect to host two additional residencies in the second half of this fiscal year and look forward to sharing more details." 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.