If Monday lunchtimes couldn’t get any worse than usual, yesterday’s was dealt a hefty blow as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan rejected plans for a space-age MSG Sphere.
If Las Vegas can have one, why can’t the best metropolis in the world?
The 21,500 capacity venue, which would have amounted to over $2bn of private investment in the capital, would have changed the way London hosted sport given it would have come in at more than the size of Greenwich’s O2 arena.
Not only have Londoners been denied some innovative architecture and ambition for once, but sport nuts like this City A.M. desk have been refused what would have been an awe-inspiring venue for the likes of UFC and boxing. It could have even made fencing interesting!
And no further demonstration of what is being ditched is needed than the three-day show the MSG Sphere put on during the Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix.
At the Las Vegas Grand Prix the MSG Sphere was used by Formula 1 to advertise and show off in true Sin City fashion, with was hired to the tune of $450,000 per day by the likes of Google Chrome (who enjoy over 60 per cent of the browser market share regardless) to advertise and it offered solace when miffed punters were otherwise busy joining a class action lawsuit against Formula 1.
London’s skyline was on the brink of truly dramatic change, comparable to a city’s first skyscraper, primary boulevard or inaugural sporting venue.
The MSG Sphere could have been London’s new Coliseum, renowned for its ability to innovate, develop and entertain an already leading city.
It may not be the Royal Ascot or Henley Regatta of picturesque venues but it would have been the cool kid at school where no matter how boisterous, everyone wanted to be friends with it.
London in decline?
Aside from its gloriously historic and characterful football stadiums, London is devoid of quirky and forward thinking arenas.
And this capital city, still just about clinging on to its status as a global one, has space for venues from The Theatre Royal Drury Lane to a faux Shakespeare’s Globe, a bland Formula E setting at the ExCel to the O2 Arena.
So why not the MSG Sphere?
Sport in the capital reached a new level when the once Millennium Dome opened its doors punters – the next year will see the Teflon-coated venue host WWE, darts and basketball – and it is time London’s sporting scene was elevated once more.
An MSG Sphere in London could have stemmed the flow of major events heading to the Middle East and beyond but in Khan and the capital’s inability to see that London could, and will, lose out in the long-term.
The greatest city on Earth is falling behind when it comes to bidding for new and major sports events.
Blocking innovation, development and excitement – not to mention private investment to the tune of $2bn – because of some light pollution could force London into a dim period of playing catch-up on the sports hosting scene.
Khan should rethink his archaic decision.