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While Las Vegas inaugurates its Sphere, London residents push back on plans for replica venue

The Sphere opens in Las Vegas with U2
The Sphere opens in Las Vegas with U2 residency 04:20

The inaugural concert at Las Vegas' Sphere, the city's latest state-of-the-art music venue, earned rave reviews from concert-goers and online commentators alike after its official opening last week.

The new concert hall is lined by an enormous high-resolution, floor-to-ceiling screen measuring 160,000 square feet to offer a uniquely immersive experience for those inside. Footage from inside the venue during the U2 concert which inaugurated the Sphere was shared widely on social media, gathering millions of views and earning widespread praise. [Watch a video about it at the top of this story.]

But plans to open a second Sphere in London have been met with pushback from local residents, who are concerned about the east London location proposed for the new venue and the light pollution it may cause.

Artist's rendition of the proposed new Sphere music venue in Stratford, east London MSG Sphere London

The Stop MSG Sphere campaign group says its supporters are "terrified" of the plans for the new Sphere, which they believe "will severely blight the area." The group's spokeswoman, Lindesay Mace, told CBS they are not necessarily against a new music venue in the area, but rather the "offensive nature of the building."

The group says the site of the new Sphere in Stratford is surrounded by residential properties, and as close as 250 feet to some homes. Campaigners have also criticized the developer's offer of black-out window blinds for those who live closest to the venue.

MSG Entertainment says the London Sphere would "transform an undeveloped site" into "a thriving destination that also serves as a long-term investment in the future of London," while creating thousands of jobs.

If approved, the proposed Sphere in London will rival the iconic Big Ben for height at nearly 300 feet, and will measure almost 400 feet in diameter. Just like on the inside, the exterior of the Sphere would be lined with an enormous screen that can be programmed to display various visual effects and advertisements.

The Sphere in Las Vegas
The Sphere is seen at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2023. The giant video screen covering its exterior can be changed to show different displays. Tayfun Coskun/Getty Images

"Stratford is not Las Vegas," Nate Higgins, who is a Green Party councillor representing the local area, told CBS News. "I've lived there for my entire adult life, it is not the same thing."

Higgins claims that among those who live in close proximity to the proposed site of the Sphere, he hasn't found any supporters of this project.

The project's developers are "not really interested in building a new concert venue that's going to support local artists," Higgins said. "They're interested in building a new advertising screen in a highly populated area."

Illustrations of the proposed Sphere in London
MSG London says the proposed venue will generate up to 3,200 jobs every year when the venue is open. MSG London/Facebook

Reporting on one of the meetings held for residents to air their concerns about the proposals, local newspaper Hackney Citizen quoted one of the residents saying: "This is not a normal building. It's a giant glowing orb. ... There's one in Vegas, and I don't think anyone here wants to live in Vegas."

Before construction can begin, the project still needs approval from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, as well as the U.K. government's Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove.

CBS News has reached out to MSG London for comment and will update this story with their response.

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