Sphere
Map
Address255 Sands Ave
LocationParadise, Nevada, United States
Coordinates36°07′14″N 115°09′41″W / 36.12056°N 115.16139°W / 36.12056; -115.16139
Public transitLas Vegas Monorail (planned)
OwnerSphere Entertainment Co.
Vici Properties
OperatorSphere Entertainment Co.
Executive suites23
Capacity18,600 (seated); 20,000 (including floor)
Acreage18
Construction
Broke groundSeptember 27, 2018; 5 years ago (2018-09-27)
Built2019–2023
OpenedSeptember 29, 2023; 5 months ago (September 29, 2023)
Construction cost$2.3 billion
ArchitectPopulous
Structural engineerSeverud Associates[1]
General contractorAECOM
Madison Square Garden
Website
www.thespherevegas.com/ Edit this at Wikidata

Sphere (also called Sphere at the Venetian Resort) is a music and entertainment arena in Paradise, Nevada, United States, east of the Las Vegas Strip. Designed by Populous, the spherical project was announced by the Madison Square Garden Company in 2018, known then as the MSG Sphere. The 18,600-seat auditorium is being marketed for its immersive video and audio capabilities, which include a 16K resolution wraparound interior LED screen, speakers with beamforming and wave field synthesis technologies, and 4D physical effects. The venue's exterior also features 580,000 sq ft (54,000 m2) of LED displays. Sphere measures 366 feet (112 m) high and 516 feet (157 m) wide. The arena cost $2.3 billion, making it by far the most expensive entertainment venue built in Las Vegas.

Sphere opened on September 29, 2023, with Irish rock band U2 beginning a 40-show residency called U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere. Director Darren Aronofsky's docu-film Postcard from Earth opened on October 6, 2023.

History

Background

The project, known then as the MSG Sphere, was announced in February 2018.[2][3] The project was initially a partnership between the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) and Las Vegas Sands Corporation.[4] Sphere is just off the Las Vegas Strip and east of the Venetian resort, which was opened by Las Vegas Sands in 1999.[3] Las Vegas Sands contributed the 18-acre (7.3 ha) site for the project.[5] Apollo Global Management purchased the Venetian in 2022 and became MSG's new partner on the Sphere project, replacing Las Vegas Sands.[6] As part of the sale, the land beneath the Venetian Resort and Sphere was purchased by Vici Properties.[7]

The sphere-shaped project was designed by Populous,[8] with an interior that includes the world's largest LED screen.[5] MSG initially estimated the project cost at $1.2 billion.[5] In February 2020, the company said the cost had increased to $1.66 billion as a result of design changes consisting of guest enhancements.[9] The cost continued to increase,[10][11][12] eventually surpassing $2 billion due to the 2021–2023 global supply chain crisis and the 2021–2022 inflation surge.[13][14] With a final expected cost of $2.3 billion,[15] it is the most expensive entertainment venue in Las Vegas history,[16] beating out the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.[7]

Construction

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 27, 2018, and was attended by approximately 300 people, including Las Vegas Sands' Sheldon Adelson and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval.[17] In November 2018, it was reported that the MSG Sphere would be built along with new bars, private suites, a museum and retail space.[18] AECOM began working on the site in February 2019, through a preliminary agreement. AECOM had worked on several other stadiums, including the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.[19] Excavation was underway in March 2019.[20] Approximately 110,000 cubic yards (84,000 m3) of dirt and caliche were excavated to prepare the site for construction.[19] AECOM was named as the general contractor in June 2019.[19][21] The project had 400 construction workers. This number was expected to eventually reach a peak of 1,500.[22] Construction of the basement was underway in July 2019.[23]

By October 2019, construction crews had completed the 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m2) basement as well as the first ground level of the venue.[8] The basement area will be used as public space for events.[22] Excavation went as deep as 21 feet (6.4 m) for construction of the basement.[19] In December 2019, the spherical structure reached 65 feet (20 m) in height with the completion of a fourth level, out of eight above-ground floors.[24]

In February 2020, the world's fourth-largest crane, a Demag CC-8800 crawler crane, was set up on the site's northeast side for the purpose of lifting heavy construction materials. The crane is capable of standing up to 580 feet (180 m). In a disassembled state, the crane was transported across the Atlantic Ocean from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Port Hueneme, California. The crane then required 120 tractor-trailers to transport it to Las Vegas. A separate crane was required to assemble the main crane, a process which took 18 days.[25][26] In March 2020, construction reached the widest point of the spherical structure, the 516-foot (157 m) diameter,[22] located at the sixth level and 108 feet (33 m) above ground.[27]

The project had been scheduled to open in 2021.[22] However, MSG announced on March 31, 2020, that construction would be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project experienced a disruption in its supply chain, a result of the pandemic, and this hindered construction progress. All construction work on the project was expected to come to a stop over the next two weeks following the announcement.[28][29] In August 2020, MSG Entertainment announced that construction had resumed on the project, with the opening rescheduled for 2023. Over the subsequent 15 months, construction would be focused on concrete, followed by steel erection and then the 13,000-ton steel-domed roof, the most complex part of the project.[30][31] In October 2020, crews completed the heaviest lift up to that point, with the installation of two 240-ton steel girders.[32][33]

MSG took over as general contractor in December 2020, although AECOM continued to provide support.[34][35] A 170-ton steel compression ring was added in February 2021, marking the heaviest lift of the entire project. Due to its size, the ring had to be assembled at the construction site. Work crews spent three weeks welding and bolting the prefabricated steel pieces together, and the crane was then used to lift the ring into place.[36][37][38]

Roof, exosphere, and interior

Construction of the exosphere in September 2022

The dome's roof required 3,000 tons of steel.[39] The roof started to take shape in March 2021, as crews began the installation of 32 trusses, each one weighing 100 tons.[40] Truss installation reached the midway point in May 2021, and the crane had to be moved to the southern side of the property to install the remainder. Because of its size, the crane's relocation took two days.[41]

The dome was topped off on June 18, 2021,[42] and work was already underway on an external exosphere which would be built around the dome.[43] The exosphere is made of LED light panels which are visible from several miles away. It is 30 percent taller than the dome.[42][44] Work on Sphere's interior began in August 2021.[45]

Upon completion of the roof's steel frame, 6,000 cubic yards (4,600 m3) of concrete were then pumped onto the roof. This formed a layer measuring 10 inches (250 mm) in thickness, and weighing approximately 10,000 tons.[46] The roof was finished in October 2021.[46][47] Crews then turned their focus to the 730-ton steel interior frame which supports the LED screens and audio system.[46][48] Work on the interior frame continued into 2022.[6][47]

A second topping out, for the exosphere,[42][44] took place on May 24, 2022.[49][50] This was followed by installation of the interior and exterior LED screens.[50] The latter was illuminated for the first time on July 4, 2023, during Independence Day celebrations.[51][52] Sphere soon went viral for its display of images.[53][54]

Opening

U2 performing at Sphere on October 11, 2023

The venue's owner, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, split into two companies in April 2023, with Sphere Entertainment Company taking over ownership.[55][56] The venue itself was renamed Sphere.[54] It opened on September 29, 2023,[57] with U2 as its first performer in a residency titled U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere.[58][59][60] It marked the group's first live show since 2019.[61] MSG plans on hosting four to six residencies each year at Sphere.[62] The company also debuted its first feature film, Postcard from Earth by director Darren Aronofsky, at Sphere on October 6, 2023.[63][64][65] The venue will employ up to 3,000 people.[66] Since opening, the Sphere has operated on a $98.4 million loss as of the end of the third fiscal quarter of 2023, prompting the resignation of MSG's CFO.[67]

Features

The exosphere of the venue displaying animated visuals at night

Sphere is 366 feet (112 m) high and 516 feet (157 m) wide at its broadest point.[22] It is the largest spherical building in the world at 875,000 sq ft (81,300 m2).[24] It includes seating for 18,600 people,[68][62] and all seats have high speed internet access.[69] Haptic technology is incorporated into 10,000 of the venue's seats.[68] Seating does not wrap around the entire sphere, instead covering approximately two-thirds of the interior while the stage takes up the remainder.[70] The venue can accommodate 20,000 people in standing capacity.[35] Sphere has nine levels, including the basement, where a VIP club is located. A total of 23 suites are included, across the third and fifth floors.[50]

The venue's exosphere is lit by approximately 1.23 million LED pucks, each with 48 diodes.

Sphere's interior is equipped with a 16K resolution wraparound LED screen, measuring 160,000 sq ft (15,000 m2).[71][68] It is the largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world.[43] The exterior of the venue features 580,000 sq ft (54,000 m2) of LED display space,[6][72] which can feature holiday themes, with Sphere depicting a Halloween jack-o'-lantern or a Christmas snow globe, for instance.[73] The exterior is also used for advertising.[74] Both the interior and exterior screens were manufactured by SACO Technologies, a Canadian company specializing in LED video displays and lighting.[75][76]

The venue's speaker system is based on Holoplot's X1 Matrix Array.

Sphere features a spatial audio system based on Holoplot's X1 speaker module, which uses beamforming and wave field synthesis technologies and is equipped with 96 drivers each.[77][78][79] The sound system comprises 1,600 X1 speakers that are installed behind the LED panels, along with 300 mobile modules, for a total of 167,000 speaker drivers.[80][81][82] The sound system also can deliver sound through the floorboards.[72] 4D features, including scent and wind, can be used.[73]

The arena will primarily host award shows and concerts, in addition to other entertainment events.[83] Though not designed to fit a traditional arena layout for sports such as basketball and ice hockey, it can host ring sports events such as boxing and mixed martial arts,[84][70] as well as esports tournaments.[50]

The property includes 304 parking spaces, while additional spaces will be available at the parking garages for the nearby Venetian, Palazzo, and Venetian Expo.[84] A 1,000-foot (300 m) pedestrian bridge will connect Sphere to the expo,[5] and there are plans to build a new Las Vegas Monorail station to serve Sphere and the Venetian.[18][85][86] However, these plans were put on hold in April 2020, due to the financial impact of the pandemic.[87][needs update]

Events

Concerts

List of concerts at Sphere
Date(s) Headliner(s) Supporting act(s) Event/Tour Shows
September 29, 2023 – March 2, 2024 U2[88] Pauli "the PSM" Lovejoy U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere 40
April 18–21, 2024 Phish[89] 4
May 16 – July 13, 2024 Dead & Company[90] Dead Forever Live at Sphere 24

Other shows

Postcard from Earth, directed by Darren Aronofsky, debuted on October 6, 2023.[65][91] The show is preceded by the Sphere Experience, a demonstration of the venue's capabilities that utilizes animatronic robots and holographs.[92][93]

Formula 1

The Sphere is part of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit.

2024 events

Other locations

MSG had stated that it intends to build other Sphere venues around the world.[82][96]

A similar MSG Sphere was planned to be built in Stratford, East London.[97][98][99] However, in November 2023, the sphere's planning permission was rejected by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, primarily over concerns about potential light pollution.[100] Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has suggested Teesside in North East England as an alternative venue for the Sphere.[101]

In December 2023, MSG was discussing building of a new venue to be used for K-pop concerts in Hanam, South Korea.[102] After discussions stalled for South Korea and also Saudi Arabia, MSG was in talks with developers in United Arab Emirates to build a second location in Abu Dhabi.[103][104]

Sphere Studios

Sphere Studios,[105] originally MSG Sphere Studios, opened in Burbank, California, in May 2022.[106] The facility handles production and post-production work for the Las Vegas sphere and future spheres. MSG Sphere Studios sought to collaborate with filmmakers and musicians to create some of the content for the Las Vegas sphere.[96] Ted King, who previously worked on Star Trek: The Experience, is among those who will create visual content for Sphere in Las Vegas.[107] The studio will also produce content in association with the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix,[108] which will travel past Sphere.[82]

The spherical studio facility, nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall, is a miniature version of the Las Vegas sphere.[106] The facility uses Big Sky, a specialized camera system created specifically to produce material for Sphere.[109]

See also

References

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