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Everything you should know about the Sphere: Las Vegas' multi-billion dollar entertainment venue

A rendering of the Sphere in Las Vegas.
A rendering of the Sphere in Las Vegas. Copyright Credit: MSG Sphere
Copyright Credit: MSG Sphere
By Theo FarrantAP
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The Sphere is finally here - and it's already generated quite a buzz.

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It started as a simple sketch - a circle with a stick person inside. Seven years later, that drawing has been made real: A $2.3 billion (€2.19 billion) massive spherical venue, standing 366 feet (111 metres) high and lighting up the Las Vegas skyline.

The drawing was initially made by James Dolan, the executive chair of Madison Square Garden and owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers. 

Together with David Dibble, CEO of MSG Ventures, they embarked on a mission to revolutionise the entertainment venue industry in Las Vegas.

Now Dolan and Dibble have recently unveiled their billion-dollar investment to the world, which has so far been viewed as a monumental success. 

What's so special about the Sphere?

James Shaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The MSG Sphere illuminates the Las Vegas skyline with a display to celebrate Independence Day as the Exosphere is fully lit up for the first time on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.James Shaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal

“It really is a new medium,” said Dolan, speaking to the media during a walkthrough.

"When you’re in the Sphere, you don’t get told what to look at. The audience decides what they want to focus on.”

Inside the 516-foot-wide (157-metre-wide) Sphere, a high-resolution LED screen (the largest on earth!) wraps halfway around the 17,600-seat audience. 

Out of these 17,600 seats, 10,000 provide an immersive experience with a specialised sound system capable of making guests "feel" sound vibrations.

The Sphere proudly boasts having the world's largest concert-grade audio system, comprising 1,586 loudspeaker modules, 167,000 speaker drivers, amplifiers, and processing channels, as well as 300 mobile loudspeaker modules. 

Together, these components deliver a "crystal-clear" and multi-layered audio experience.

Not only is the interior of the building impressive, but its exterior also boasts 1.2 million hockey puck-sized LEDs that can be programmed to create dynamic and colossal image displays.

It drew immediate attention on the Fourth of July with a digital fireworks display and an eyeball that appeared to scan the horizon with the words “Hello World.”

Tourists and air travellers have also seen the orb light up with the likeness of the Earth or Moon, bouncing basketballs and art designs. 

U2's mesmerising Sphere debut

Credit: AP Photo
People arrive for the opening night of the Sphere and U2's “UV Achtung Baby" show, Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Las Vegas.Credit: AP Photo

On 29 September, the much-anticipated moment arrived as the Sphere unveiled its grandeur to the world for the first time, setting the stage for U2's 25-show residency

This legendary rock band took centre stage within the colossal, state-of-the-art spherical structure and delivered a two-hour performance that left the audience in awe.

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Throughout the evening, attendees were treated to a mesmerising array of stunning visuals, including kaleidoscope imagery, a burning flag and the iconic skyline of Las Vegas, all of which transported the more than 18,000 spectators on an epic musical journey. 

It was a start studded affair, with numerous prominent entertainers and athletes in attendance, including Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Matt Damon, Andre Agassi, Ava DuVernay, Josh Duhamel, Jason Bateman, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Orlando Bloom. 

Tickets for the residency range from $400.21 to upwards of $1495. 

Looking ahead, the Sphere will continue to captivate audiences as it prepares to present "Postcard from Earth," a production directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. 

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Speaking about the upcoming spectacle, Aronofsky expressed his anticipation, saying, "People are going to get their minds won. I've seen the screen. I've seen it, seen it turn on. I've heard the quality of the sound. It's awesome." 

Will Sphere be coming to London?

Dolan anticipates widespread acceptance of the Sphere concept and envisions its global expansion.

Following the introduction of plans for a London Sphere shortly after the 2018 Las Vegas project unveiling, the British venue was initially slated to open just a year after its American counterpart. 

However, while the Vegas Sphere is now fully operational, construction has yet to commence in the UK due to a protracted series of planning negotiations.

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The selected location, a former Olympics coach park in Stratford, east London, has encountered significant local opposition. 

A "Stop MSG Sphere" campaign insists that it is "unsuitable" for the area, which already hosts multiple entertainment venues, including ABBA Voyage and the former Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham. 

Furthermore, campaigners assert that the venue's external screens would worsen light pollution for local residents.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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