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Hanam signs partner for K-Star World, Abu Dhabi ‘targeted’ for Sphere arena

Featured image credit: Hanam City

The South Korean city of Hanam has signed a cooperation agreement with the Gangdong-gu district of Seoul for the development of the K-Star World complex that could include a Sphere arena, while Sphere Entertainment is reportedly in “serious talks” to establish a venue in Abu Dhabi.

Hanam City K-Star World envisions the development of a large K-pop themed arena, along with the likes of a movie studio, theme park, hotel and supporting facilities on a 900,000 m2 site on Misa Island. 

Through the agreement, Hanam City and Gangdong-gu have agreed to cooperate on creating the nation’s leading cultural and video industry cluster based on K-culture, along with developing the upper reaches of the Han River to become a centre for the eastern metropolitan area.

In September, Hanam City, which is located 20km east of Seoul’s Gangnam District, signed a business agreement with Sphere Entertainment, the US developer of the arena concept which opened its first venue on September 29 in Las Vegas, with a view to locating one of the facilities in South Korea.

Hanam Mayor, Lee Hyeon-jae, said: “Hanam City and Gangdong-gu should take advantage of the opportunity that K-culture is gaining in popularity globally and work together to develop a global K- culture hub.

“Hanam City and Gangdong-gu will build a close partnership through this agreement. We will create an environment where Hanam citizens and Gangdong-gu residents can enjoy a state-of-the-art performance hall and a comfortable waterside life, and furthermore, the best cultural tourism complex in Korea will be created in Hanam City and Gangdong-gu.”

Gangdong-gu Mayor, Lee Soo-hee, added: “We are accelerating the development of the Han River… but we are experiencing difficulties in development due to various regulations such as green belts and water supply protection zones.

“With this agreement as an opportunity, we are also reviewing various measures to relieve regulations on the upper reaches of the Han River in connection with Hanam City’s hosting of ‘Sphere’, and we expect that it will develop into a representative cultural and tourism centre in Korea.”

Meanwhile, the New York Post, citing a source close to the situation, said Sphere Entertainment executive chairman and CEO, James Dolan, is in talks with investors in Abu Dhabi to build the second Sphere arena in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The newspaper said Abu Dhabi has come to the forefront after discussions with developers to build arenas in Saudi Arabia and South Korea have “stalled”. Sphere Entertainment is currently understood to be planning for eight Spheres globally.

It emerged last month that the UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has sought to intervene in an effort to prevent the collapse of the project to deliver a Sphere arena in London.

The move by the Department, led by Michael Gove, came after the plans were rejected by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on the grounds that the proposals would have an “unacceptable negative impact” on local residents.

Sphere Entertainment, formerly known as Madison Square Garden Entertainment, had been seeking to build a venue with 17,500 seats in the heart of Stratford, East London.