Executive chairman/CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company, James Dolan, took the stage with chairman/CEO of The Azoff Company, Irving Azoff, to discuss the venue’s development and its potential impact on the live events industry.
Set to open in 2021, the multipurpose venue is “designed to be plug-and-play,” says Dolan, adding that it will feature an in-house content studio, Sphere Studios. Services include highly immersive content designed specifically for the venue that will exist in an extensive, ever-growing library, and offered to visiting artists and acts. The idea will be that the in-house team can match content to a touring act’s palette.
Perhaps one of the most innovative bits of tech in the venue will be its sound system. The beam-forming sound technology—“like a laser beam but sound,” says Dolan—is patented, and MSG owns part of the company. Holoplot, based in Germany, has helped develop this proprietary system, based around technology used in train stations, where sound follows the observer so every part of the arena “sounds perfect.”
Connectivity for new venues, says Dolan, has to be be next-level. Esports events, for example, will eventually allow thousands of people to play each other, not just watch a tournament or match.
A first round of attractions is being completed that will feature shorter experiences, designed specifically to showcase the cutting-edge elements of the Sphere environment. Later, longer shows will focus more on storytelling. With a scalable capacity of 17,500 seated and 20,000 when there is a mix of seated and standing, the venue plans to offer two or three shows by day, turning over to a live performance or event of in the evening, such as a concert or sporting event. MSG additionally plans to open the venue for convention clients up to 30 days annually. Tao is MSG’s partner for food and beverage.