James Dolan's Sketch of the Sphere becomes reality when the venue opens with a U2 show in Las Vegas

  • Post by: Admin
  • Sep 30 2023

It started as a rough sketch of a circle with a stick figure inside

They both experimented with different shapes for the structure—such as a cupcake, a box, and even a pyramid—until Dolan drew the circle and stick figure on a notebook. At that moment the sphere was born.

Now Dolan's vision will become a reality when U2's "UV Warning Baby" residency begins Friday night with the opening of its high-tech, globe-shaped venue.

“It's really a new medium,” Dolan said during a tour with media on Thursday. “When you're in the sphere, you're not told what to see. The audience decides what they want to focus on.”

Inside the 157-meter-wide sphere, a high-resolution LED screen half encloses the 17,500-capacity audience. The venue is equipped with thousands of speakers that deliver a “crystal clear” and multi-layered experience.

The venue features a number of technology attractions, including five interactive humanoid robots called Aura.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Dibble, who framed Dolan’s original drawing after carrying the image in his backpack. “Everything from our audio and networking system to visual displays and stored camera systems – everything is required to deliver an effective Sphere experience.”

The state-of-the-art venue has become a traffic stopper – especially at night. On July 4th, it immediately attracted attention with a digital fireworks display, an eyeball that seemed to scan the horizon with the words "Hello, World."

In addition to U2's 25-show residency, the venue will host a special production next week called "Postcard from Earth" by film director Darren Aronofsky.

Tourists and air travelers have also seen the globe light up with the image of the Earth or the Moon and bounce basketballs and art motifs. The characters from the upcoming animated film "Trolls Band Together" were featured on its LED exterior and it announced the release of NSYNC's new single "Better Place," a song from the film's soundtrack.

“That’s cool,” said Glenn NP Nowak, an architecture professor at the nearby University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It’s like words don’t do it justice.”

The sphere is similar to the Spaceship Earth attraction at Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park in Florida. Its design also draws comparisons to the Montreal Biosphere Museum in Canada and the Avicii Arena in Sweden.

It doesn't tower over the Strip like the 520-foot (158-meter) High Roller Ferris wheel that casino giant Caesars Entertainment opened in 2014, or the 1,149-foot (350-meter) tower at the Strat Hotel & Casino, which opened in 1996.

However, the Sphere is the most expensive entertainment venue built in Las Vegas, surpassing the approximately $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat sports facility Allegiant Stadium, which opened in 2020.

“There is a hype about it,” added Nowak, who toured the structure with his students at various stages of construction. “I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t necessarily understand what they just saw.”

Beyond a structure that Nowak called an “engineering marvel,” he pointed to its leading position as an attraction in an emerging “experience economy” in Las Vegas.

Each year, Las Vegas attracts more than 40 million people to an area known for gambling, nightlife, spas, entertainment shows and fine dining. Most typically arrive by plane at Harry Reid International Airport, which handled nearly 53 million passengers in 2022.

“It was the perfect market,” Dolan said. “This marketplace is about growth. They welcome the idea of putting a big, giant spherical light bulb in the middle. This market loves light, it loves shows and entertainment. The sphere is all about these things. The government here has been friendly and encouraging.”

The project began as a partnership with casino company Las Vegas Sands, then owner of the Venetian and Palazzo resort towers on the Las Vegas Strip. Now the 35-story Venetian and 50-story Palazzo, with more than 7,000 rooms combined, offer breathtaking bird's-eye views of the sphere.

Dolan said the casino owners initially thought the venue was a “regular old arena.”

“The casino owners were worried that they would be deprived of entertainment options, so they had to have their own venue,” he said. “At some point we told them it wasn’t going to be a regular arena. They really embraced the concept.”

Dolan believes many others will embrace the sphere and hopes to spread the concept around the world. He believes that London could be the next landing site and dreams of one day building one in New York.

But for now, Dolan is focused on proving the sphere is real.

“I feel good about what we built,” he said. “I have a feeling it will be a success. People will love it. I’m not as anxious as I used to be.”