MSG Sphere, New State-Of-The-Art Venue For Las Vegas and London, Unveiled

The MSG Sphere
– The MSG Sphere
The first venue is slated to open in Las Vegas in 2020

James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, today at Radio City Music Hall unveiled his vision of the future, an intersection of technology and culture that falls under the aegis of MSG Sphere.

MSG Sphere is a venue and a concept and will break ground in June in Las Vegas, down the block from the Venetian, and when it opens in 2020 will be a 18,500-seat venue that will unite assorted cutting edge technologies with performance, gaming and corporate events such as auto shows.

“No longer is the venue a place to spectate. It’s a place to go and participate,” Dolan told an invited crowd Thursday evening at Radio City where audio and video technology behind MSG Sphere was on display.

Dolan, the executive chairman and CEO of the Madison Square Garden Co., and David Dibble, the CEO of MSG Ventures, explained the ambition and scale of MSG Sphere as venture not yet attempted by others in the Virtual Reality or large format film space to date.

In a nutshell, MSG Sphere is offering a combination of IMAX scaled to the 10th power, audio that defies logic and interconnectivity that smashes previous efforts. Dolan used a gamers event at Madison Square Garden where a sell-out crowd watched a handful of competitors. “Imagine 5,000 vs. 5,000 or 1 vs. 10,000,” he said of MSG Sphere’s potential.

While MSG has plans to build it second Sphere in London, its quest now is for content. “We want to own as much intellectual property as possible,” he said. “We’re seeking partners to accelerate [growth].”

Seemingly, Dolan is looking for a broad range of ideas to be presented to Sphere team. The Vegas location is definitely a concert venue, but it could also be home to a 360-degree experience that re-creates an EDM festival or a car show.

At Radio City Music Hall, they demonstrated the distinctions in the audio and video quality. For starters, the audio is targeted to each seat so that every patron hears the exact same performance. The video, filmed on a special camera that puts Hi-Def to shame, is beamed on a screen with a 40,000:1 resolution.

 Size: 1510 KB Dimension: 1229 x 690 The MSG Sphere
– Size: 1510 KB Dimension: 1229 x 690 The MSG Sphere
A look at the Sphere

Dolan said the idea has been germinating for more than two years and traced the concept back to Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt” from 1951, when “the intelligent venue” was first broached as science fiction. And at the end of his presentation, he explained the Old West concept of  “the ballyhoo,” whereby a barker would generate interest among townsfolk and then give a performance. It’s also the title of a song he wrote.
Rather than give a performance, he welcomed the crowd to a unique vision of the future of venues.

Nearly simultaneously, Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment and co-founder of OVG Group (Pollstar‘s parent company), unveiled a condensed version of the same presentation to a packed house at the 2018 Pollstar Live! conference. Azoff called the new venue a “model for the next millennium,” and “an iconic venue, the first of its kind.”