Las Vegas’ new Sphere venue is officially open after U2 kicked off a 25-show residency at the 18,600-capacity arena on Friday.
The Populous-designed facility has been built at a cost of $2.3bn (£1.9bn/€2.2bn) and has been praised for its stunning visuals. The exterior of the arena was lit up for the first time back in July, and fans had the chance to sample the inside of the venue on Friday.
Huge graphics filled the arena from the floor to the ceiling, creating an immersive experience for fans in attendance. “What a fancy pad,” was the verdict from U2 frontman Bono, with the opening event attended by a string of A-list stars including Paul McCartney, LeBron James and Matt Damon.
The arena is operated by Sphere Entertainment Company, formerly known as Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp, and has been designed to create a new landmark on the Las Vegas skyline.
The arena’s 580,000-square-foot, fully programmable LED Exosphere exterior is the largest LED screen in the world. It consists of around 1.2 million LED pucks, spaced eight inches apart, with each puck containing 48 individual LED diodes and each diode capable of displaying 256 million different colours.
The futuristic Sphere also features its own humanoid robot in the shape of Aura, a ‘spokesbot’ that will interact with guests. Five Aura robots greet guests from the moment they enter the Sphere.
The Las Vegas facility is the first of several planned Sphere venues around the world. During Formula 1’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, the arena will have a prime position on the circuit to showcase the Exosphere to a global audience.
U2: Achtung Baby Live at Sphere will run until December 16. The Sphere Experience, which includes a specially commissioned film by Darren Aronofsky, launches on Friday.