‘The first of its kind’: Mega Entertainment Venue behind Venetian Breaks Ground
By: Chris Kudialis
With a height rivaling that of the Strip casinos a block away, a proposed 18,000-seat globe-shaped facility with a 160,000-square-foot LED screen will be a gigantic addition to prime real estate in Las Vegas’ tourist corridor.
That’s according to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who stood before a crowd of about 200 formally dressed business leaders and politicians, raving about the Madison Square Garden Sphere. The project, set to open in 2021, ceremoniously broke ground Thursday night.
“This truly is the next chapter in the history of the evolution of the entertainment capital of the world,” Sandoval said. “This will be the first of its kind, right here in Las Vegas, Nevada.”
A 1,100-foot pedestrian bridge will connect the 360-by-500-foot facility, located on Sands Avenue between Manhattan Street and Koval Lane, to the Venetian.
MSG CEO James Dolan compared Thursday’s groundbreaking to that of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, saying developers won’t realize the facility’s full potential “until we have it built.” A company spokeswoman said the venue will serve as an events center for everything from music concerts to TED talks and conventions.
“You’re the right place for this, Las Vegas,” Dolan said. “You showed us this.”
Sandoval repeated an independent projection that the venue will create 3,500 temporary construction jobs, 4,400 permanent jobs once the facility opens and an annual economic output of $730 million to the local economy. The sphere will create $48 million in annual state and local tax revenue, $7.2 million of which will be earmarked for the Clark County School District.
The venue’s exterior is a 580,000-square-foot spherical shape that is wrapped in an open-air trellis structure. The venue’s total cost, which has not been released, includes a $75 million contribution from the Las Vegas Sands Corp.
A 50-year land lease agreement for MSG to use the Sands-owned land calls for work to start within 18 months of the agreement date, made in July. MSG is not on the hook for any fixed rent for leasing the parcel, but Sands could receive up to 25 percent of the after-tax cash flow on venue profits.
As part of the “iconic evening,” per Sandoval, the governor held shovels onstage with Dolan, Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani as well as Sands officials.