Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ever since F1 announced the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the idea of cars racing down The Strip at night has sparked interest.

However, the new Formula One circuit will also pass by another attraction that will draw worldwide attention: The Sphere, a 20,000-capacity entertainment venue that is the largest spherical structure in the world, costing $2.3 billion to construct.

Impossible to miss for F1 fans, the Sphere has already caught the eye of every Las Vegas visitor with its impressive external LED screen lighting up since July.

During the upcoming F1 event, the Sphere will be located inside the track near Turns 5, 6, and 7, adjacent to the “T-Mobile Zone at Sphere” fan area. This zone will be the primary location for concerts and other entertainment during the weekend.

“We’re excited to showcase Sphere to the millions of Formula 1 fans that will be watching around the world,” Sphere executive chairman and CEO James Dolan said this week. “As part of our agreement, F1 will have a multi-day takeover of Sphere, including the use of the exosphere to display race-related content and compelling brand activations.”

The outside of the structure features 1.2 million puck-sized LEDs, offering many creative content opportunities, which F1 has plenty of experience with.

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Organizers plan to heavily use the Sphere during the pre-race buildup and the national anthem, but the visuals will need to be toned down to avoid distracting the drivers during on-track sessions.


(Dan Istitene/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

“It will serve as an incredible backdrop to our Sphere grandstands where you have a number of turns, you have a chicane – it will be an incredible place to have a ticket,” Las Vegas GP CEO Renee Wilm told The Athletic. “… We’re just going to continue the momentum around their global exposure. It’ll be terrific racing and a terrific customer experience.”

Despite the positive aspects, there are concerns about environmental impacts and increased traffic due to the races.

Vegas taxi driver Dale Corson mentioned stories of rideshares taking 90 minutes to reach the Sphere entrance before events because of traffic congestion.

As much as the exosphere has gotten attention, it’s the theater inside the Sphere that has generated buzz since opening with U2 concerts. It also features a film experience by director Darren Aronofsky called “Postcard from Earth.” It has created jaw-dropping visuals on the massive screen enveloping the audience.

Dolan said that “Postcard from Earth” and the U2 shows have led the Sphere to generate $1 million in daily ticket revenues through October. Though both shows will go dark during race week, the Sphere will still attract attention.

“We are already seeing Sphere’s ability to inspire awe and wonder, and the venue has become a landmark destination in Las Vegas,” Dolan said. “But we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface and are excited by how much further we can take this new entertainment media in the future.”

While there are plans to build additional Sphere venues around the world, it is an expensive proposition. The Sphere drew headlines this week after its quarterly earnings report showed an operating loss of $98.4 million. The company’s CFO Gautam Ranji also resigned.

During F1 week, the conversation around the Sphere will likely range from curiosity to admiration for its various uses.

Said Dolan: “Our journey with Sphere is just beginning. And while it will take some time for Sphere to realize its full potential, we’re off to a great start.”

(Lead Image: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton/The Athletic)


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