While it’s been a tough year for Las Vegas, the desert town is blooming new life in 2021. With a number of exciting venues opening this year, it’s no wonder Vegas is in a celebratory mood. And adding to the list of unique venues and landmarks in the city, Madison Square Garden’s Sphere at The Venetian is now coming to life – the domed roof taking shape as a marvel of modern engineering. Although the Sphere likely won’t be ready for guests until 2023, it is a testament to human tenacity that despite the uncertainty of the last year, the massive dome is still climbing skyward.
Domed Roof Rises to the Heavens
The domed roof of the Sphere is drawing attention from all over the world. A statement from the MSG group explains joyfully, “Construction is now well underway on MSG Sphere at The Venetian’s massive concrete and steel domed roof!
Late last week crews successfully set the first piece of the dome’s steel frame – a ‘pie piece’ shaped roof truss that weighs more than 100 tons and is nearly 200 feet long. The state-of-the-art entertainment venue’s dome will be made up of 32 of these ‘pie pieces,’ and once complete, will weigh more than 13,000 tons with a surface area around 220,000 square feet – that’s nearly five football fields.
Too large to be transported, these “pie pieces” are being welded and bolted together right on the Sands Avenue construction site. They are then set into place almost 300 feet in the air – positioned between a nearly 200-ton compression ring (lifted last month) and a tension ring that runs the full perimeter of the venue’s top level.
Approximately 3,000 tons of steel will be used to build the roof frame – a process that is expected to be completed this summer.”
And while Sphere won’t welcome people until 2023, it’s already generating buzz because of its blend of futuristic tech and 21st century know-how engineering. Nick Tomasino, VP of Construction for MSG Entertainment, adds, “MSG Sphere’s domed roof will create a column-free, interior bowl, which will house the 160,000-square foot display plane – a key component in the venue’s immersive experiences. This defining feature is the result of expert design, engineering and construction planning, and we look forward to seeing the roof continue to take shape over the coming months.”
Sphere Offers a Peerless and Unique Venue for Performers and Guests Alike
MSG’s Sphere promises to be another unique landmark in a city brimming with them. From the Egypt-inspired pyramid Luxor hotel, to the canals-of-Venice-inspired Venetian, Vegas venues offer visitors unique experiences with the bonus of being just an arm’s reach from the next modern wonder.
MSG’s Sphere at The Venetian will join that illustrious list as the roof reaches towards the skies. Even building the Sphere has required some creative thinking. One of the world’s four largest cranes was needed to hoist the compression ring 300 feet into the air to start the process of creating the dome feature. Dome engineering is tricky, but hearkens back to one of the world’s oldest and strongest engineering wonders – the arch. Although the Sphere will be secured by bolts and endless joists, spheres and arches both rely on the precision of the piece next to them to hold shape. Each shape presses outwards against it’s neighbors, and the combined result is a surprisingly strong and durable shape that can support a lot of weight.
On the construction, Tomasino remarks per ENR, “‘Even the scale of the equipment needed for construction is unique,’ says Nick Tomasino, vice president of construction for the Madison Square Garden Co., in a statement. ‘This specialty crane allows us to execute the complexities that come with building the largest spherical structure in the world, safely performing lifts that require an incredible amount of expertise and precision.’”
Vegas’s 2021 Openings Promise a Fruitful Year
While the Sphere won’t open until 2023, its rise is an appropriate addition to the 2021 openings. This year, Vegas welcomes the eagerly anticipated Resorts World, with its impressive list of partners and shoppes. Resorts World is bringing big names to Vegas like Wally’s from Los Angeles, and Gatsby’s.
With Vegas slowly coming to life again after the dark and difficult final half of 2020, it’s time to enjoy what Vegas does best – the human experience in all its beauty and variety.
MSG Insider Tour Dazzles
The media got a glimpse inside of the Sphere as it’s being built, and CELEB was there. Even as the breathtaking marvel of engineering comes together, it’s obvious how incredible this venue is going to be. Words fail to capture the size, scope, and ingenuity of the MSG Sphere as it races towards the finish line. The exterior of the Sphere will offer 580,000 square feet of LED screens, turning it into its own display. And speaking of the dome itself – the world’s largest spherical structure will finish at 516 feet wide and a whopping 366 feet tall. That’s another 80 feet on top of what passersby can see when looking at the dome today. Six million pounds of steel bend together and hold one another up to provide support for up to 42 million pounds, allowing the dome to easily support the audio and visual systems that will make the dome the most technologically advanced venue in the world.
17,500 seated guests will be able to fill the venue, and 23 VIP suites will thrill posh visitors. There’s standing room for 20,000 guests in all, with over 160,000 square feet of indoor viewing screen—larger than three football fields’ worth of just viewing space.
And the venue isn’t just advanced, it’s convenient—each guest will be able to access internet connectivity with speeds of 25MBPS, and immersive seating offers a 4D experience with an Infrasound Haptic System that wraps guests in the moment.
The main atrium boasts 5.7 million cubic feet of space. And sitting only one block from the Vegas Strip, you can easily take the pedestrian walkway from Sands Expo center or stroll down the strip for more nightlife fun.
All in all, even expecting a lot—the tour of MSG’s growing dome wowed. It was a promise that seemed too good to be true, building this great crystalline dome in the desert, making it the most tech-integrated and advanced venue in the world. But somehow, they’ve done it. In just 2 years, Vegas and the world will be able to experience something out of this world – but close enough to touch.