MSG Sphere Las Vegas – What You Need to Know Before the Opening
In a city filled with incredible buildings, one attraction is set to push the standards of entertainment and produce a new Las Vegas wonder full of technology and innovation.
Set to open in 2023, the Las Vegas Sphere will undoubtedly become one of the city’s biggest attractions from opening day.
The venue will host a variety of events and activities, cementing Las Vegas’ reputation as the city of excess. We’ve done the research to bring you everything you should know before the grand opening that’s getting closer with every passing day.
What Is the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas?
Officially called the MSG Sphere at the Venetian, the venue is a sphere-shaped arena currently being built east of the Venetian. It’s just off the iconic Las Vegas Strip, but still within very close walking distance of the most popular gambling venues in the city.
The venue was designed by the global architectural and design practice Populus. It’s one of the largest architecture firms in the world, known for specializing in arenas, convention centers, and sports facilities.
Besides this gigantic venue, the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. is also planning on constructing an identical sphere in the Stratford area of London. Although this arena is still in the approval part of the process and construction hasn’t begun, it promises to be equally impressive.
It would have a seating capacity of 17,500 people and a standing capacity of 21,500 people. Furthermore, the company has also announced that it plans to build several other identical buildings across the globe, although it hasn’t yet announced where.
The Exterior of the Sphere
When completed, the Sphere will be 366 ft (112 meters) high and 516 ft (156 meters) wide. Its equator, the 516 ft widest point, is located on the sixth level, exactly 108 feet above the ground. When completed, the Sphere will become the largest spherical building in the world.
The Sphere’s complex roof alone required over 3,000 tons of steel. It’s comprised of 32 trusses, each with a weight of 100 tons. The entire dome weighs around 13,000 tons and covers a surface area of more than 220,000 sq ft (20,400 square meters).
These specifications, along with the sphere shape of the arena, allow the dome to support around 42 million pounds of weight. The exterior of the Sphere will be equipped with over 580,000 sq ft (54,000 square meters) of programmable lighting.
These exterior LED lights will be an attraction on their own, making the Sphere a shining beacon of the city. The arena’s exosphere, made out of LED lights, will be visible from several miles. Moreover, it will be about 30% taller than the dome itself.
To ensure the Sphere’s better connectivity to the rest of the Las Vegas Strip, a 1,000-foot pedestrian bridge will be built to connect it to the Venetian Expo.
What’s more, city officials have said that there are plans to add a monorail station somewhere between the Sphere and The Venetian.
While these plans are still on hold, when finished, they will allow much easier access to the Sphere from other parts of the city. The Sphere will also include just over 300 parking spaces.
The Interior of the Sphere
The Sphere's interior is a large-scale music and entertainment venue with a massive 17,500 auditorium. Another interesting feature about the Sphere is that each of the 17,500 seats will have access to high-speed Internet.
That way, the audience can use different apps for a more interactive experience or use social media in real-time to share their experience with their friends who aren’t able to attend.
Moreover, for events organized in a standing capacity, the Sphere will be able to accommodate a crowd of up to 20,000 people. In total, the interior of the Sphere stretches over nine levels.
The interior screen is guaranteed to provide an experience like no other, if nothing else, simply because of its huge scale. To be more precise, it will cover an area larger than three football fields.
When finished, it will wrap around the interior of the arena and be the largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world. The screen’s resolution will be 19,000 by 13,500 pixels.
The total surface the wraparound screen will cover measures around 160,000 sq. ft. (15,000 square meters).
Additionally, the company also made sure that the audio quality is on par with the impressive screen. Sources say that between 157,000 and 164,000 directional speakers will be installed in the arena.
The sound system will also deliver sound through the floorboards. To support this massive audio-video system, the Sphere will have a robust 730-ton steel interior frame keeping everything in place.
How Much Did the MSG Sphere Cost?
Initial estimates for the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas had planned costs of about $1.2 billion. This is a staggering amount for a single entertainment complex and only shows how serious this megaproject is for the city.
However, the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the rapidly increasing costs of materials changed the expected cost of the project by over 50%. The most recent estimates range around the $1.8 billion mark.
Due to the pandemic, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. reported losses of several hundred million dollars in 2020 and 2021. That said, with everything back on track, the company doesn’t expect any more significant changes on the financial side.
The Massive Scale of the Sphere’s Construction
When assembling the Sphere’s construction, the sheer scale of the venue required the use of the DEMAG CC-8800 crane. This is the fourth-largest crane in the world. Only its boom (arm) is a massive 512 ft. (156 meters).
This behemoth contraption was shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, from Belgium. After arriving in California, it was transported to Las Vegas using 120 tractor-trailers. Moreover, it took seventeen days to assemble the crane itself.
At one point during the construction project, the crane had to be moved from one part of the property to another one. Due to its tremendous size, just doing this took the workers two days.
The excavation project involved 400 construction workers. Preparing the site for this spherical venue was an undertaking on its own. Around 110,000 cubic yards (84,000 cubic meters) of dirt was excavated, with excavation going as deep as 21 feet.
Overall, the estimated peak number of workers at any point of the project was around 1,500. The most challenging part of the project was assembling the 13,000-ton steel-domed roof.
Considering all of this, the expected 2023 deadline is pretty impressive, especially considering that work halted during the worst months of the pandemic and the disruption in the project’s supply chain.
What Will the Las Vegas Sphere Include?
The Sphere is expected to provide jobs for around 4,400 after opening. This is an impressive but realistic number considering everything the Sphere will include. With that in mind, let’s go over everything this arena will include.
For starters, as it serves primarily as an arena, there likely won’t be any of the classic features that you can find in nearby Vegas complexes.
In other words, the Sphere won’t have an abundance of restaurants, shops, and other activities, as these are not in line with the venue’s primary purpose.
That said, it will surprisingly offer accommodation, although only to those with a fairly deep pocket. This is because the Sphere will include 23 exclusive suites across the third and fifth floors.
Entertainment wise, there will also be a VIP club in the basement. The arena will host all types of entertainment events. These will mostly be made up of concerts and award shows, although the company has also hinted that it will be used for many sporting events as well.
With the ability to accommodate between 17,500 and 20,000 people, the Sphere is suitable for huge esports tournaments.
Of course, there’s the possibility of hosting MMA and boxing matches, the latter of which already has a proven track record of big events in Las Vegas.
A Major Attraction of the New F1 Track
Younger F1 fans might not remember that Las Vegas actually had a track that was a part of the official Formula One World Championship. Albeit briefly, the Caesars Palace Grand Prix welcomed F1 drivers from 1981 to 1984.
Following the 1984 race, the circuit was unexpectedly removed from the F1 calendar. But, after nearly four decades of absence, it will return to Sin City in November 2023. Why does this matter when talking about the MSG Sphere?
Because the Sphere will be a major part of the circuit. Apart from driving around other Las Vegas attractions like Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and The Mirage, F1 drivers will drive in three of the four streets encompassing the Sphere.
This will make the Las Vegas race one of the most visually spectacular ones in the F1 calendar.
Admittedly, MSG’s executives had said that this was a lucky coincidence, as no one knew in 2018 when the Sphere was announced that Formula One would be returning to Las Vegas.
Still, execs have big plans on this front and have even announced that they will partner with F1 to have thousands of seats placed on the property surrounding the Sphere. This is sure to deliver a unique experience to all racing fans.
Delivering a Unique Audio-Visual Experience
The dome design and the advanced acoustics will enable the Sphere to provide a unique audio-visual experience. Regardless of the type of event, the massive display surface and the sheer number of speakers deliver clear audio to every visitor.
Utilizing sophisticated technologies, including beamforming, the arena improves the signal-to-noise ratio so that the audio is constant and keeps its quality as it travels from the performer to the listener.
In other words, no matter where your seat is located, you’ll enjoy great volume and sound quality. In the Sphere, there are no good and bad seats. Every seat delivers a unique and premium experience.
What’s more, focusing on the unique part of the experience, Sphere also excels in providing a customized experience to its audience members.
This is partly thanks to the advanced infrasound haptic system. This system uses deep vibrations to enable listeners to literally feel the atmosphere around them.
In Anticipation of Opening Day
With everything we’ve discussed about the Sphere, it’s hard to contain the hype surrounding this monumental venue.
Truly a modern world wonder, it’s guaranteed to bring even more tourists to Sin City and immediately become one of the key landmarks of a new Las Vegas.
The colossal building will undoubtedly get a tremendous opening day, and we can’t wait for the official date to be announced. It will be a spectacle to both those lucky enough to be inside the arena and those observing the show from afar. We know we’ll certainly be in attendance. Will you?