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Nothing Will Ever Be the Same: James Dolan Has a $2 Billion Sphere

Sphere is art. Sphere is life. Don't fight it, give in to Sphere.

12:48 PM EDT on July 14, 2023

A photo of James Dolan inset into a photo of the Sphere under construction.

Dolan and the Sphere, seen here under construction in August of 2022 (Wikicommons user LittleT889 / Governor’s Office)

To some, it might appear that billionaire Knicks owner James Dolan is spinning his wheels, bogged down in spiteful litigation with the New York State Liquor Authority and struggling to rebalance the chemistry of his underperforming basketball team.

The truth lies some 2,500 miles west in Las Vegas, where Dolan is on the precipice of unleashing a powerful new innovation: a giant sphere.

A sphere, a shape that evokes feelings of wonder, and thoughts of cantaloupe. So simple! Yes, a simple design for this $2.3 billion structure that is anything but ordinary. The Sphere has 580,000 square feet of programmable LED panels, and more than 1 million LED lights. Think of the (spherical) possibilities! 

Since the Sphere's exterior was turned on earlier this month, the Sphere has changed the way people have moved around Vegas. You are no longer driving down the road listening to ZZ Top's "La Grange," pantomiming existence. You are now witnessing the birth of a new medium, in the form of a giant basketball advertisement.

You are no longer mournfully looking out of your hotel room window, you are being reminded of Four Loko—but in the most Spherical of ways.

Did you think these were the only worlds the Sphere could conjure? Fuck you. Fuck you for your small-minded arrogance.

Luckily, the Sphere is patient. The Sphere understands that you cannot possibly comprehend every combination of cool-sphere-thing it is capable of. Eyeball? Yes, the Sphere does eyeball.

Not spooky enough for you? The Sphere has an answer. Ha ha! What a delight!

Why stop at one basketball, when the sight of many basketballs, bouncing bountifully, tickles the brain-spine connection!

If this was all the Sphere was capable of, it would be enough. But James Dolan knows that, much like a C-suite veteran who keeps a harmonica in his breast pocket, a Sphere contains multitudes. 

The Sphere is also a venue with an 18,000-seat capacity. A venue with a dome? No. That would be a planetarium, and those already exist. This is different. 

Our eyes—our SPHERES—cry out for more screens! AAHH! AAAHHHHHHHH!!!! Thankfully, Dolan has given us screens inside, some three football fields worth of screens. And speakers! Hundreds of thousands of speakers. Also: wind, heat, cold, (scents?). Together, the effect will no doubt be something sublime, close to death itself. 

"Obviously if you are in the polar ice cap, you have to feel cold; you have to see the glacier," Dolan said of the Sphere, when its planned existence was unveiled several years ago. "That is essentially what we are building: an attempt to convince you that you are somewhere else." Obviously!

U2 will be the first artists to perform in the Sphere when it opens in September. Some fans were recently refunded their tickets. The official explanation was "bad sightlines," but perhaps the Sphere's brainlines were too strong? The power of the Sphere must be respected.

(Apparently U2 was paid $10 million to appear in the Sphere but maybe these reports are wrong and it is actually the other way around? And U2 paid the Sphere? Not that the Sphere traffics in the petty script of mortals. Although, the Sphere does have its own stock ticker symbol. Is this just another one of the Sphere's mysteries?)

After U2, the Sphere will feature "Postcard from Earth," a film made by Darren Aronofsky. Can you imagine the artistry of "Mother!" in 4-D, projected over three football fields? Lights, camera, GENIUS.

It is not enough that the Sphere will give us a whole new kind of entertainment. The Sphere will also give us life. The Sphere is hiring 3,000 people. Who wouldn't want to be closer to the Sphere?

Thankfully, Las Vegas will not be the only place with a Sphere. James Dolan is apparently planning another Sphere, in London.

Why are New Yorkers doomed to live life without a Sphere? (And no, this is not a Sphere. Did this Sphere cost $2 billion? Can it blow a prairie wind or harness an arctic storm? No. No!!!!)

When are we getting a Sphere?

Mr. Dolan?


(Photos: Wikicommons / Governor's Office)

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