Construction on the MSG Sphere at The Venetian, the massive entertainment venue in Las Vegas, reached a milestone on Tuesday as executives vowed it would be open on time to participate in the FIA Formula One World Championship when it comes to Nevada in November 2023.
The venue, estimated to cost $1.865 billion, will “absolutely” be ready for the event, MSG Entertainment’s senior vp of construction Nick Tomasino asserted Tuesday at the construction site during a walkthrough attended by The Hollywood Reporter. “The Formula One track goes around the MSG Sphere. We’re happy to be able to partner with Formula One and make the race happen,” Tomasino said.
The wildly ambitious construction project began in 2019 and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023. On Tuesday, MSG marked the completion of the venue’s steel exosphere, the primary structural work on the project. The exosphere starts at ground level and works up to the “oculus,” which, now secured into place, means that the exosphere is self-supporting. This compression ring at the top of the sphere holds the structure in place and has a diameter of 136 feet and weighs 121 tons.
When completed, the MSG Sphere is expected to become the largest spherical structure in the world, at 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, and serve as a radical new entertainment venue that can accommodate up to 20,000 standing spectators or 17,500 seated guests, with 23 VIP suites.
The Sphere is expected to house a record 160,000-square-foot wraparound LED display on the interior, while the exterior will be coated with a record 580,000-square-foot exterior LED display, both of which are fully-programmable and could accommodate 16K- by-16K picture resolution. With it, MSG aims to transport guests to the location and experience displayed on the immersive screen.
Through a partnership with Berlin-based audio company Holoplot, the Sphere will house a custom spatial audio system using as many as 164,000 speakers. Additional plans include 4D capabilities from wind to scents, as well as connectivity for all guests. The interior will have three layers of cooling, including one beneath the seating.
When it comes to the content for the venue, MSG has already started to reach out to Hollywood filmmakers, as well as musicians, to create custom, immersive content and experiences for the wraparound LED display. Plans also include use of the venue for live performances, sports, gaming, and corporate events, as well as advertising on the exterior LED display. Tomasino confirmed that it also could show live events on the LED display.
“We have the ability to extend the stage in modular sections,” Tomasino said, adding this includes the ability to extend it forward toward the audience, as well as control the width and its height. “We have full versatility.” There’s also space below the stage for the artists and for after parties.
On the Formula One plans, MSG Entertainment’s executive chairman and CEO Jim Dolan told THR, “We didn’t know five years ago that Formula One was going to come to Las Vegas, but we are excited to be partnering with them. The track will go right around MSG Sphere, giving us a prominent position in the race broadcast and exposure to F1’s global fan base. F1 will have grandstands for thousands of race fans on our property, and they’re taking over the exosphere display for race-related content and activations.”
Underscoring the ambitious plans, on May 19, MSG held a ribbon-cutting for MSG Sphere Studios, a dome with adjacent production and office space near Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, which will house development of original content and immersive experiences for the venue. (The Dome in Burbank, which measures nearly 100 feet in height, is a quarter-scale prototype of the Las Vegas Sphere.)
The MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, however, is the start of a broader intent to build spheres and large domes around the world. MSG Entertainment has already announced plans for a London site, with more locations to follow.