Las Vegas’ giant $2.3B sphere is officially open

Las Vegas’ giant, expensive Sphere is now open, offering a high-tech immersive venue that sounds, well, pretty intense.

Sphere Entertainment opens its latest venue — also called Sphere — in Las Vegas today. And much like everyone’s iTunes library in 2014, it’s coming with U2.

A giant sphere displaying a blue swirl pattern lights up a Las Vegas street at night.

Even a cynic must admit the giant orb looks pretty cool. At 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, it is the largest spherical structure on Earth, per Yahoo Finance. Its exterior, which has featured visuals of pumpkins, a giant eyeball, fireworks, and more, can be seen from a plane. It also:

  • Took four years to build
  • Cost an estimated $2.3B
  • Fits 20k guests (or 17.6k seated)
  • Features a 580k-square-foot LED exterior, a 160k-square-foot LED interior, and 160k+ speakers

The guest experience is also heavy on tech: it doesn’t take cash, and has free WiFi, phone charging stations, and uncanny valley robot guides.

After U2’s 25-show run — for which the band is being paid a reported $10m, plus 90% of ticket sales, per Bloomberg — the venue will feature Postcard from Earth, an immersive film from The Whale director Darren Aronosfky, with tickets starting at $49.

Who built this thing?

James Dolan, the controversial CEO of MSG Entertainment — you may remember when he used facial recognition tech to ban his enemies from his venues — and son of Cablevision founder Charles Dolan.

He told Bloomberg Sphere’s sound system could “blow your ears out” and is so crisp, you’ll hear musicians’ every mistake. But that’s not all:

  • The seats replicate human skin for consistent sound, regardless of how many guests are present.
  • It has vibrating seats, and scent, wind, and temperature tech for deeper immersion.

All told, it sounds pretty intense, but… also like it might just be amazing if tourists are willing to fork over the cash.

Fun fact: Dolan says he was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt,” which features a nursery that can display hyperrealistic scenes. But it’s also a bloody short story about a family that becomes too reliant on technology.

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