viagogo’s Managing Director, Cris Miller says retracted Sphere bid a monumental loss to live events industry and local community  

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viagogo saw first-hand that 2023 was the year of live events with fans from 90 different countries flocking to the UK to see stars like Beyoncé, The Weeknd, and Bruce Springsteen. This booming market, valued at $653 billion (£514 billion) in 2022, is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2032. So why when we are witnessing such growth are we managing to deter investment in innovative new spaces like The Sphere?

Within its first two months of opening, the Las Vegas Sphere brought in $75 million in profits through U2 concerts, and the city saw a dramatic surge in tourism. The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian experienced the strongest visitation increase of 19% following the opening, and budget hotels like the Rio Hotel & Casino saw a 32% lift in visitation.

Closer to home, Tottenham Hotspur announced in December 2023 a contribution of almost £1bn to the local economy, with the club supporting 3,700 jobs in the tri-borough area. Such venues deliver value far beyond takings on the gate – supporting jobs and bringing much needed revenue into local hospitality venues. 

MSG told The Independent in October 2023 that the Sphere project would bring 2,200 jobs to Stratford, adding an estimated $2billion to the London economy and $50million in annual revenue for local residents.

In addition to the commercial loss, the cultural deficit also needs to be considered. A London Sphere could have provided another European alternative to Las Vegas, helping the capital compete with Paris, which recently hosted a successful residency for R&B superstar Usher. London has always been a tastemaker city, appealing to diverse, global artists which would draw tourists to the capital in their thousands. The venue would have provided an extraordinary stage playing host to popular African or Asian artists who might struggle to secure a Stateside residency for some time. We see huge, rising demand on our platform for international stars like Nigerian artists Rema and Davido alongside K-pop bands BLACKPINK and TWICE who could have effortlessly sold out such venues.

With the plans now withdrawn, it’s a monumental loss both to the UK and international live events industry – and the local community.

However, we remain optimistic. As an international live events destination, London never sits still. With acts ranging from Peter Kay to Taylor Swift as well as the Champions League Final and Six Nations – the capital will be alight with stardust in 2024. Let’s hope this missed investment blip hasn’t deterred future investment in the development of new live event spaces in London.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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