In a futuristic presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday evening, Madison Square Garden Company chief James Dolan unveiled MSG Sphere, a vision of a technologically enhanced arena of the future. In a presentation for investors and reporters that utilized nearly all of Radio City’s stage and towering ceiling and recalled astronomy exhibits at science museums, Dolan said, “No longer is the venue a place to spectate. It’s a place to go and participate.” The screen filled with renderings of spherical venues placed in the cityscapes of Las Vegas and London — where the first two such arenas are scheduled to open beginning in 2020. The company expects to break ground on the 18,500-capacity Vegas venue later this year.
While the presentation was short on specifics, press materials speak of the “music and entertainment-focused venues [that] will revolutionize the way artists and audiences connect” via the “next generation of transformative, immersive experiences.” Dolan, citing as inspiration the Ray Bradbury short story “The Veldt” which included an “intelligent venue,” described audio that will be optimized for each member of the audience, and ultra-high-definition video.
The venues’ features are expected to include:
A spherical shape, which will become a hallmark design element of MSG Sphere venues; copious VIP-type amenities options a height of more than 360 feet and equator width of more than 500 feet; technologies that include a fully programmable exterior, creating a digital showcase for brands, artists, events, and partners; an interior bowl that features the largest and highest current resolution media display; a custom spherical camera system; a dynamically adaptive acoustics system that will deliver crystal-clear audio to every guest; and a new architecture for wireless connectivity.
Attendees were invited to view mini-installations of the dome’s tech, including a VR mock-up of the massive screen that will stretch in front, around, and above audiences; a demo of the “haptic floor” that will make seats vibrate with bass notes; and a sound system that can direct and modulate audio mixes with extreme precision.
MSG aims to break ground on its first dome, the MSG Sphere Las Vegas, by the end of this year, for an opening targeted for as early as 2020.