Jul 8, 2023 - Economy

Introducing The Sphere Las Vegas

The Sphere, Las Vegas

The Sphere, via Sphere Entertainment

Last week I went to a Steve Reich concert in the Sonic Sphere, a $2 million 250-capacity music venue suspended from the roof of The Shed, in Manhattan.

Details: A scaled-up version of legendary composer Karlheinz Stockhausen's 1970 Kugelauditorium, it's designed to be a whole new way of listening to music, with 100 speakers surrounding every audience member from every direction.

Driving the news: If you scale up the spending by three orders of magnitude and drop $2.3 billion on an immersive spherical entertainment venue, what you end up with is The Sphere Las Vegas, which announced its arrival on Tuesday by lighting up its 580,000-square-foot external LED skin, or "exosphere."

  • Expect that exosphere to show a lot of ads going forward, in an attempt to defray some of those construction costs.

Go deeper: Inside the sphere is an 18,600-seat auditorium with its own immersive LED ceiling — much smaller than the exosphere, but still huge. Rather than 100 speakers, the interior of The Sphere has about 170,000 of them.

  • By the numbers: Tickets to U2 concerts in October are available starting at just over $500.

The bottom line: Ticketed experiential entertainment is not just for art shows any more — it's inevitably going to encroach on live entertainment.

  • Even if U2 show up in person to play The Sphere's opening nights, the real revenue potential here is to sell tickets to prerecorded shows around the clock.
  • Steve Reich might not be able to reliably sell 18,000 seats to a Las Vegas crowd, but surely Michael Jackson could.
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