World's Largest Spherical Structure Takes Over Vegas Skyline

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MSG Sphere unveiled on July 4, 2023
The Sphere at the Venetian Resort illuminated the Las Vegas skyline with its impactful exterior, the Exosphere, for the first time on July 4, 2023, introducing a new global landmark.
Sphere Entertainment

The skyline of Las Vegas was forever changed on July 4 when the exterior of the city’s most expensive entertainment venue in history, the Sphere at The Venetian Resort, lit up with a dazzling display of animated content across thousands of LED lights.

Located near the Vegas Strip, east of the Venetian resort, the venue has been recognized, for now, as the world’s largest spherical structure at 366 feet high and 516 feet wide at its broadest point. 

Set to open September 29 with U2: UV Achtung Baby Live, the Sphere has a seating capacity of 17,600 people, with a 20,000-person standing capacity.

Acts on stage will be supported and dwarfed by a wraparound 160,000-square-foot 16K LED screen. For perspective, it is nearly three times the size of the Times Square screen set to be installed at the TSX Broadway project in New York City. 

According to MSG, multiple events can be held simultaneously without interruption based on the design of the venue.

For once, when an organizer says there is not a bad seat in the house, they might be telling the truth. The speakers will deliver the same sound to every seat, from down in front to the top row in the back. Also, the seats are designed with 4D capabilities, vibrations to match elements on the screen, and the addition of wind, temperature, scent, and even rain effects. 

That’s just the interior.

The Exosphere, at about 580,000 square feet, is said to represent the largest LED screen on Earth. It consists of 1.2 million LED pucks, spaced 8 inches apart. Each hockey-puck-sized light contains 48 individual LEDs, with each diode capable of displaying 256 million different colors.

With that lighting ability, the Sphere can create a vivid new landmark on the Las Vegas skyline as it demonstrated on July 4 with a mix of fireworks, making itself a pumpkin, an eyeball, and more.

Check out this July 4 intro of the Sphere to the Vegas skyline:

“The Exosphere is more than a screen or a billboard. It is living architecture and unlike anything that exists anywhere in the world,” said Guy Barnett, Sphere Entertainment's senior vice president of brand strategy and creative development.

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More than 3,000 construction workers were reportedly involved in building the structure, which is expected to create nearly 4,500 permanent jobs once completed.

Construction of the MSG Sphere Las Vegas began at the intersection of Sands Avenue and South Koval Lane in February 2019 with AECOM as the general contractor. 

The building process involved a massive excavation to make room for the structure and the advanced infrastructure needed to support the venue. 

In total, over 110,000 cubic yards of material were removed from the site. For scale, the basement of the Sphere, which includes a museum, retail space, restaurants, and gambling options, is approximately 80,000 square feet.

To complete the structure, larger cranes were used for some of the heavy lifts. Specifically, a Demag CC-8800 crawler crane was brought in from Belgium. Extendable up to 580 feet high, which is higher than the High Roller wheel in Vegas, the crane has a lift capacity of 1,600 tons.

Among the heavy lifts it performed was the center compression ring, which weighed 170 to 180 tons.

The dome of the primary structure was capped with the roof made up of 3,000 tons of steel using 32 trusses, each weighing in at around 100 tons.

According to Sphere Entertainment, it was then capped with more than 6,000 cubic yards of concrete at 10 inches thick, weighing around 10,000 tons to unlock the facility's full weight-bearing options.

A 730-ton steel interior frame was set up to support the LED screens and audio systems.

Additional reports on the construction process suggest that more than 75,000 tons of concrete were used, with 12 million pounds of rebar and nearly 11,000 tons of steel.

Cross-section rendering of Las Vegas MSG SphereA cross-section artists' rendering of Sphere, showing the bowl and atrium inside the structure. The venue will have space for 18,000 seats and 20,000-person capacity standing.Sphere EntertainmentCertainly, the pandemic led to some construction delays due to not having people onsite and some supply issues. However, the Sphere is not set to open in September.

The Fourth of July production was just the beginning for the Exosphere, as it will continue to display creative activations in coordination with major events in Las Vegas.

Later this year, the Exosphere will be prominently featured as part of Sphere's opening in September with U2: UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere, as well as during the first Sphere Experience, Postcard from Earth directed by Darren Aronofsky, in October.

In November, during the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, Sphere will have a prime position along the circuit to showcase the Exosphere to a global audience – in-person and on TV – as well as significant exposure through planned takeovers of the Exosphere for race-related content, activations, and advertising.

"Sphere's Exosphere is a 360-degree canvas for brand storytelling that will be seen around the world, offering our partners an unparalleled opportunity to become part of the greatest show on Earth,” said David Hopkinson, president and CEO of MSG Sports. “There's nothing comparable to the impact of displaying innovative brand and immersive content on the world's largest video screen.” 

MSG's next project is a similar sphere structure in London.

Sphere lit up with colorful splashes of colorThe skyline of Las Vegas was forever changed on July 4 when the exterior of the city’s most expensive entertainment venue in history, the Sphere at The Venetian Resort, lit up with a dazzling display of animated content across thousands of LED lights.Sphere Entertainment