Sphere’s the deal in Las Vegas after dizzying, dazzling year — but MSG boss James Dolan aims for even more (2024)

It’s been a year of Sphere.

Twelve months in, the otherworldly Las Vegas orb and its vivid visuals have become a top tourist attraction in seen-it-all Sin City.

Owner James Dolan is only too happy to have an audience. In fact, last Thursday — Independence Day — he added audio to an already mesmerizing, patriotic display of fireworks and heartstring-plucking Americana that was sure to bring scores to witness the spectacle on Sands Avenue.




Those who can’t get to the Strip could even join a new, continuous 24-hour livestream of the venue to celebrate.

Dolan —boss of Madison Square Garden, plus the New York Knicks and Rangers — said those additions were “natural” and all part of the journey for the futuristic dome, which he believes is still developing its unique identity, with more changes to come.

“The exosphere, we still haven’t quite decided what it is yet. I think there’s a lot further we can go … like be able to see through it.” Dolan told The Post, adding that the reception for his beloved, brightly-lit ball —with ripple effect like surging room rates at hotels that offer Sphere views —has astonished even him.

“We look at it as art,” Dolan explained, noting that the performing artists playing the venue have been “enchanted and challenged” by the experience —to the point where some may even assist with working up some unique displays in the coming year, he said.

But that’s only scratching Sphere’s surface.


Sphere in review

The orb first made a splash on the Vegas skyline on July 4, 2023.

Then, last fall, Bono and U2’s residency christened the 20,000-capacity concert hall with an eye-popping 270 degrees worth of graphics at a towering scale. The Sept. 29 visual feast featured a state-of-the-art sound system that made every seat feel like the best in the house, thanks to some seriously high-tech acoustics.

“The fans who come to the shows there, the one comment I hear from them over and over again is that they’re spoiled, particularly because of the sound,” Dolan said.

“When they go to another show, even in an arena like MSG, and it’s, like, ‘Well, this isn’t as good,'” he said.

U2 packed up their instruments at the end of 2023, but, since then, the Sphere has lured classic rock acts Dead & Company and the Eagles for consecutive residencies throughout 2024.

Dolan added that “word is getting around” that playing the vivacious venue belongs on every artist’s bucket list — but some might have to wait, given the strict criteria required before a performance is greenlit.

“There have been some artists that said, ‘Yes, I can do this.’ And I’ve said to them, ‘Well, have you been there? Have you seen anything there?'” he said, alluding to the massive visual undertaking that comes with the territory.

“I actually won’t book an artist that hasn’t come and experienced something at the Sphere, so that they have an understanding of what they’re getting themselves into,” Dolan said.


Getting into gear

But even Dolan is still figuring out what he’s gotten himself into and how potential hiccups could affect the new, gargantuan gadget, he said.

For example, last November, Formula One paid the arena nearly $10 million to use its empty parking lot for viewing stands for its red-hot Grand Prix, which wound through Sin City and right past the Sphere.

“The F1 thing was a challenge,” Dolan said of the race, without elaborating on the struggles the venue faced. “I think we’re adapting to it better this year with this upcoming one.”

Also, he’s learning, the multi-billion dollar venue truly is for more than just concerts.

Director Darren Aronofsky’s film “Postcard From Earth,” for instance, has been playing there for months.

And the Sphere has hosted some big-name events, most notably the NHL Draft in June, which awed audiences both close and far.

The overwhelming orb even hosted a “Design Challenge” in which Vegas-area students — from elementary school through college — could create art to be displayed on its LED exterior; the eight winners were set for a big reveal on July 4, with the holiday as the patriotic theme for the contest.

Sphering up for more

This September, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White and top-tier UFC mixed-martial artists will bring the Sphere its first-ever live sporting event.

The plan for the Sept. 14 rumble — fighters still to be determined — is so confidential that even Dolan isn’t in the loop.

“I don’t exactly know what Dana is going to do,” he confessed while also suggesting that audiences could feel compelled to rumble themselves.

“I think he gets it and his people get it. I think you’re going to be immersed in that fight in a way so that you feel almost like you’re in the octagon,” he teased.


And while Dolan and the Sphere team are happily taking a second to count their chips after this big gamble of a year, all eyes need to be on the future in a city known for its aggressively changing, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately landscape.

“The year anniversary really highlights that the idea works and that this is successful,” he said.

“I’m taking that notion and I want to go out and build more. I want to continue to develop this one.”

Sphere’s the deal in Las Vegas after dizzying, dazzling year — but MSG boss James Dolan aims for even more (2024)
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