New Sphere could roll up in Abu Dhabi


Is The Sphere coming to Abu Dhabi Image: The Madison Square Garden Company

A second Sphere could roll up in Abu Dhabi with “serious talks” taking place to build a follow-up to the recently opened Las Vegas entertainment bubble.

The New York Post said that the billionaire owner of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, James Dolan, is pitching investors in the United Arab Emirates about licensing the Sphere – the state-of-the-art, LED-wrapped music hall that lately has played host to a U2 residency.

Since it opened in September, the Sphere has become a building of global fascination as its exterior has been programed to make it look variously like a motor racing helmet for the recently held Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix race, a giant eyeball, an emoji and a basketball, when the NBA came to town.

The move to woo investors in Abu Dhabi comes after discussions with developers to build Sphere arenas in Saudi Arabia and South Korea have stalled, according to sources.

Plans for a Sphere in East London also hit the buffers when residents near the proposed site complained that the 1.2 million LED screens that light up the exterior of the Sphere would be disruptive.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG) had applied to build the 21,500-capacity structure in Stratford, close to the Olympic Park.

London mayor Sadiq Khan rejected the application to build the venue, calling it “bulky, unduly dominant and incongruous.”

The New York Post further stated that the United Arab Emirates, by contrast, is a draw for business types across Asia and known for its audacious architecture, including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world and the Burj Al Arab hotel, which is shaped like a gigantic boat sail, both in neighboring Dubai.

Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, built the 18,000-seat Etihad Arena in 2021. It has hosted preseason NBA games and concerts.

“We are in substantive discussions with multiple international markets,” about building more Spheres, the company said in a recent public statement without naming markets.

Aside from its unique shape, the Sphere features a wraparound internal LED screen that takes visuals to the next level. A $2.3 billion massive spherical venue, it stands 366 feet (111 metres) high and lights up the Las Vegas skyline.

The Sphere boasts the world’s largest concert-grade audio system, comprising 1,586 loudspeaker modules, 167,000 speaker drivers, amplifiers, and processing channels, as well as 300 mobile loudspeaker modules.

The $2.3 billion venue will host its first ever sporting event when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hits Sin City later this year.
The proposed date for the show – September 16 – coincides with Mexican Independence Day.

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