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Las Vegas Strip's Biggest Mystery Nears Opening Day

TheStreet logo TheStreet 2/12/2023 Daniel Kline

The massive structure has been a source of curiosity and now, as its opening date approaches, details are still scarce.

Las Vegas likes a good mystery.

That's sort of what happened as a massive UFO-like structure rose in what's essentially the parking lot at the Venetian. Even before it had been publicly been given a name, the project was garnering attention simply because it does not like anything else on the Las Vegas Strip.

On its own, just standing out on the Strip is impressive given that the 4.2-mile stretch of road hosts a version of the Eiffel Tower, a Statue of Liberty, a Roman Colosseum, an Egyptian Pyramid, and a whole lot of really striking architecture. But, even with that competition, what we now know is the MSG (MSGE) - Get Free Report Sphere, being built just east of the Venetian's Expo convention center, will be a whole new kind of performance and entertainment venue.  

The Sphere isn't just a concert hall or an arena, it's a first-of-its-kind venue built to essentially be the perfect place for the biggest-name artists to host a residency. Only really big stars will even be able to consider playing there because it will hold over 17,500 concertgoers.

Very few artists can sell out a venue that big for weeks at a time. And, for some perspective, Lady Gaga's residency takes place at MGM Resorts International's (MGM) - Get Free Report Park MGM which has 6,400 seats while Caesars Entertainment's Colosseum -- which hosts Adele, Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart, Sting, and Jerry Seinfeld -- only has 4,300,

That makes MSG's Sphere truly unique as it's built for residencies but on a scale very few bands can fill. That has led to a lot of intrigue around the acts that might play there.

MSG Sphere Las Vegas © Provided by TheStreet MSG Sphere Las Vegas

MSG Sphere Has Faced a Lot of Problems

MSG has been incredibly ambitious with the Sphere project.

It's a 366-foot-high steel sphere that will "be covered with about 580,000 square feet of fully programmable LED panels, forming the largest LED screen on Earth," according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "The 17,500-seat venue will have a high-resolution display plane, which is larger than three football fields, the world’s largest beam-forming audio system with more than 160,000 speakers and it will deliver superior sound to every seat in the house."

All of those speakers and LED panels cost a lot of money and an initial budget of $1.3 billion has spiraled into $2.2 billion of costs. That has forced MSG into considering spinning off parts of its business and it's likely at least part of the reason the parent company had a round of layoffs.

Still, even with the delay and cost overruns, the MSG Sphere appears on track for a September 2023 opening. What that opening looks like, however, remains a major question.

No Headliner Has Been Named to Open MSG Sphere

While it was widely reported back in July 2022 that U2 would open the Sphere and be its first resident act, that no longer appears to be a sure thing now.  Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. CFO David Byrnes was coy about what band will open the venue in an interview with the Review-Journal.

“We’re in active discussions regarding a wide variety of event types, including music residencies and expect to have our first residency help us open the venue in September,” Byrnes said. “I’d also add that we’re targeting between four and six residency headliners every year and that could obviously vary depending on the length of the residency.”

The Sphere will also host an original movie which will show multiple times a day. Byrnes promised an immersive film from a major Hollywood director that fully takes advantage of the venue's capabilities. 

“We’ve talked about original attractions as being another key component of our plan to really drive the high utilization at the Sphere, and we continue to expect to run these originals multiple times a day, year-round,” he added.


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