Developers of the $1.66-billion MSG Sphere in Las Vegas have removed AECOM as general contractor on the project and will bring construction management in-house for the 875,000-sq-ft entertainment venue, according to a Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. statement released Dec. 17.
The company offered no reason for the change.
An MSG Entertainment executive who declined to be identified by name reiterated points in the company’s announcement about the action, saying it reflects a strengthening of an internal team that’s ready to take direct control of the project while AECOM remains in the picture to provide support.
AECOM said in a statement: “Our relationship with MSG Entertainment remains strong, and we're proud of our ongoing involvement to help deliver this transformational project.”
Neither company would elaborate or allow executives to go on the record by name.
When complete, the MSG Sphere will be the world’s largest spherical structure, at 360 ft high, with cutting-edge audio and video technology for concerts and other events. AECOM, a multinational engineering and construction management company, was brought on board as general contractor in June 2019.
MSG executive Jayne McGivern will continue to lead the project through her new role as president of development and construction. “We have taken significant steps to strengthen our internal construction team,” McGivern said. “This, along with valued support from AECOM, will give us greater transparency and control over the construction process, while enabling us to continue benefiting from AECOM’s expertise.”
AECOM will remain involved in a supporting role through projected completion in 2023, the statement said, without providing additional details. About 30 AECOM employees will stay on the job, managed by MSG Entertainment.
Construction on the 17,500-seat arena reached its 516-ft “equator” in spring, shortly before stopping because of the pandemic. Construction has since resumed, with MSG Entertainment reporting 450 tradespeople working on site, primarily focused on superstructure, concrete and structural steel erection. MSG touts recent completion of the venue’s sixth-level, 490-ft-wide concrete ring beam, which sits 113 ft above ground level, and placement of two 240-ton steel girders.
Upcoming critical path work includes completing stair and elevator cores and the venue’s proscenium wall. After that, steel for the remaining exterior ring beams and inboard decks will be placed, then construction of the steel domed roof will begin in early 2021. The original 2021 completion date was pushed back two years when work resumed this summer.
Rolling Stone magazine has called the MSG Sphere “the insane concert venue of the future,” with its giant LED video displays placed above the audience, behind the stage and as part of the building’s exterior.
The MSG Sphere is going up on 18 acres just east of the Strip and will be attached to the Venetian resort with a 1,000-ft-long pedestrian bridge. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian and neighboring Palazzo resorts, is a project partner and is leasing land to the arena.