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Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas

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July 24, 2019 By Richard N. Velotta

Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company gave the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.

The company is expecting millions of people to see concerts, shows and business presentations at the venue when the MSG Sphere at The Venetian opens its doors in 2021.

Nick Tomasino, project manager of development and construction for The Madison Square Garden Company, on Tuesday led a brief tour of the construction site of the Sphere, a high-tech 17,500-seat spherical performance venue being built in collaboration with the Las Vegas Sands Corp. just east of The Venetian. MSG is designing and building the venue and Sands is providing the land. The cost of the project has not been disclosed.

The building, planned to be 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide at its broadest point, is being built on 18 acres off Sands Avenue between Manhattan Street and Koval Lane. The new performance venue will be connected to The Venetian and Palazzo at the Sands Expo & Convention Center with a 1,000-foot pedestrian bridge.

MSG is promising a fully immersive experience on a large scale. Inside the venue, guests will be surrounded by the largest and highest resolution LED screen on Earth. More than 160,000 square feet of display surface — equal to three football fields — will wrap up, over and behind the stage and audience, delivering a totally immersive visual environment at a resolution 100 times better than today’s high-definition televisions.

Every guest will hear crystal-clear audio with an advanced acoustics system that features beamforming technology, enabling audio to be directed to specific locations in the bowl at a volume that remains constant, from point of origin to destination. Beamforming technology also enables multiple forms of content to be delivered simultaneously, which means two people sitting 5 feet apart could hear completely different sounds, adding to the possibility for a customized experience. In business presentation environment, that means soundtracks can be beamed to specific areas in different languages without headphones while watching the same presentation.

An infrasound haptic system will use deep vibrations so that guests can “feel” an experience, whether it’s an erupting volcano or a passing motorcycle roaring by.

The MSG Sphere at The Venetian also will ignite the sense of smell through evocative scents designed to transport audiences.

Additionally, the venue will introduce a new architecture for connectivity that will deliver 25 megabits per second for every guest, enabling a broader range of content and greater interaction.

Workers already excavated an estimated 110,000 cubic yards of dirt and caliche from the site while drilling 595 augercast piles to secure the building’s foundation. Caliche is a concrete-hard calcium carbonate substance commonly found below the ground at construction sites.

The piles securing the foundation are being drilled as deep as 75 feet. The 595 piles will result in a total of 51,324.7 feet of drilling — about 9.7 miles. A total of 1,285 tons of rebar are being used to reinforce the piles.

Crews also are excavating up to 21.5 feet deep for the basement of the Sphere structure.

An estimated 1,500 construction jobs will be filled when the general contractor, Los Angeles-based AECOM, a multinational engineering firm with offices in Las Vegas, reaches the peak of development, according to Tomasino. He said currently there are 400 workers on the site.

The site is dotted with six construction cranes and Tomasino said before the project is completed, several more will be added, including cranes the size of those working at the Las Vegas stadium site.

AECOM began work on the site in February through a preliminary agreement and in June was named general contractor.

In addition to the 3-year-old $375 million T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, AECOM has built Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena in Atlanta as well as the U.S. Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.


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