Las Vegas Sphere set for 2021 opening with a new monorail station, maybe without NV Energy
The much-anticipated and possibly world’s largest spherical structure, Las Vegas Sphere along The Strip, should be finished in the second half of 2020 or early 2021, according to co-owners/developers The Madison Square Garden Co. and Sands Corp., but it may be powered by a provider other than NV Energy, the state’s public electric supplier.
Developers filed a request with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in November requesting to utilize an as of yet unidentified alternate provider of power without being levied an impact fee. The impact fee paid by Caesars Entertainment Corp. to use another provider for long-standing structures in October was nearly $50 million. The Sphere’s developers claim they should be exempt from an impact fee since NV Energy has not and should not need to invest in infrastructure in order to serve the facility. NV Energy and The Sphere developers are scheduled to negotiate over the next two months. The Public Utility Commission is expected to make a final ruling in March according to commission documents.
The Clark County Board of County Commissioners approved construction of a monorail station for The Sphere on Dec. 24 along with a station for the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. After the two stations are completed in 2021, the monorail track will be 5 miles long with nine stops.
According to a Madison Square Garden Co. press release, The Sphere “will become a hallmark design element,” of Las Vegas and stand more than 360 ft tall. It will have a width of more than 500 ft and seat 18,000. The pavilion of Kazakhstan – Nur Alem at Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, is currently regarded as the world’s largest spherically-shaped building: It measures 100 meters, or 328 ft, in height from plinth level and 80 m in diameter. The Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, is known as the largest hemispherical building in the world with a diameter of 361 ft and an inner height of 279 ft.
The tallest structure in Las Vegas is Stratosphere Tower, 1,150 ft. The tallest building in the city is the 735 ft tall The Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, which was shelled but is yet incomplete after developers went bankrupt in 2009. The tallest Ferris wheel in the world, the Linq High Roller, is 550 ft tall and is located one block west of The Sphere site.
The 400,000-sq-ft The Sphere will be located on Sands Avenue, between Manhattan Street and Koval Lane, on a 63-acre site directly adjacent to The Venetian. An official groundbreaking ceremony was held in September.
The Madison Square Garden Co. declined requests from ENR regarding project cost, build details, and the identity of the general contractor or engineering firm. Populous is the architect.
The Sphere will feature walls of LEDs, and an infrasound-haptic flooring system with beamforming technology which promises audience members will feel the entertainment by directing audio to specific locations in the bowl at a near-constant volume.
Current design plans also include wrapping the facility with a 160,000-sq ft LED screen that MSG says “will be the largest and highest on Earth.”
A 1,100-ft-long bridge will connect The Sphere to both the Palazzo and Venetian hotels.
According to MSG, up to 3,500 will build The Sphere, which will provide an estimated 4,400 permanent jobs. Estimated annual economic impact of the facility will be $730 million, with $48 million in tax revenues, MSG says in a release.
A nearly identical facility is planned for London with construction planned to commence after 2020.