Las Vegas skies pulsed with cascading light as the Sphere at The Venetian Resort fired up its first official light show last night to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The Sphere is a massive project, measuring 366 feet tall by 516 feet wide and covered entirely with a seamless LED screen. Live-stream footage from KTVN Las Vegas on Twitter showed it shimmering with lava-like reds and yellows before transitioning into the celebratory show. Another video from KTVU Fox 2 San Francisco showed the massive dome following that same fiery debut with a digital fireworks performance.
Designed by Populous, Sphere began its life as “the MSG Sphere,” a venture initially led by Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE).
MSGE subsequently split its business in two, forming Sphere Entertainment Co. (SEC) to manage the Sphere while continuing with its legacy businesses under the MSGE name. SEC also operates MSG Networks and MSG Plus, a direct-to-consumer streaming product.
Sphere Entertainment began testing the groundbreaking capabilities of Sphere over the weekend, creating a buzz in the runup to last night’s show.
Sphere Will Host World’s Largest LED Displays
The Sphere purports to be the world’s largest spherical building. Its display, which covers nearly 54,000 meters, is also the biggest LED screen on earth.
Aptly, the words “Hello World” also greeted Vegas onlookers during the weekend’s tests.
The phrase is a nod to the first command usually written in a new programing language. Typically, the greeting indicates the website or program is up and running as it should be.
In this case, it seemed an indication the new light show tech was ready to light up the Strip.
Twitter users in Las Vegas who witnessed the weekend’s tests described Sphere as otherwordly, with its lights visible several miles away. Others likened the dome to Tolkien’s Eye of Sauron and the Empire’s Death Star.
A still shot posted early July 5 by Twitter user @MFRemillard showed Sphere illuminated by the stars and stripes during its Independence Day kick-off.
— MarieFranceRemillard (@MFRemillard) July 5, 2023
Sphere Showcases Stunning, Dynamic Imagery
When complete, Sphere will become the home of “multi-sensory live entertainment,” including performances created for the building’s specialized technology.
The new space will hold 20,000 people, 17,600 seated and “standing room only,” for another 2,400. The build also includes almost 170,000 ultra-directional speakers.
Sphere’s September 29 opening will kick off a 25-show, custom production run by UK legends U2. The band’s appearances will be interspersed with showings of Darren Aronofsky’s Postcards from the Earth, dubbed a ‘Sphere Experience.”
Additionally, Formula 1 will take over the Sphere to celebrate its first Las Vegas Grand Prix in November 2023.
First up, however, was last night, when Sphere’s exosphere (exterior) lit up (officially) for the first time.
According to a media release shared before the show, Sphere’s first hurrah would reveal a new global landmark.
Second Sphere Planned for UK, Project On Hold
Notably, Sphere at The Venetian is one of two similar Populous designs.
However, the second, planned for Stratford in East London, is on hold. The pause comes after UK housing director Michael Gove issued a holding directive, temporarily preventing the build from moving ahead.
In the case of the Vegas build, costs for Sphere rose to $2.3 billion due to pandemic delays and overall complexity. That’s near double the initial cost projection of $1.2 billion.