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Las Vegas and Its Big, Big Ambitions

“Maybe a quarter of the travel market doesn’t like Las Vegas,” said Steve Hill, 64, the president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and a major force behind the city’s transformation. “What sports and entertainment do is give these people a new reason to come here.”

“The success of Allegiant stadium has informed a lot of what’s going on,” he continued. “When we built it, we projected 450,000 annual visitors to come to town to attend an event there. Last year the stadium attracted 800,000 incremental visitors. Sports and light entertainment are increasingly important to extending the Las Vegas brand into the future.”

The Sphere opens on Friday, Sept. 29, with the Irish rock band U2 playing its 1991 album “Achtung Baby.” The concert was supposed to be played two years ago, on the 30th anniversary of the album, but the pandemic delayed the Sphere’s construction. The band is booked for 25 shows in the 17,600-seat, bubble-shaped auditorium where audiences will be surrounded by a 160,000-square-foot LED media plane and 167,000 speakers. Other immersion techniques include vibrating seats and scent, temperature and wind technology.

The Sphere may stop traffic, but can it be filled? U2 will be playing in the venue until Dec. 16; tickets recently ranged from $268 to $1,240. But Live Nation, which is handling ticket sales for the Sphere, was still selling tickets to Friday’s premiere as of Monday. Seats for many subsequent shows are still available, and tickets at resellers like StubHub are going far below face value, fueling doubts as to whether this is really going to be a blockbuster. (A spokeswoman for Sphere Entertainment Company did not return a request for comment.)

Between U2 concerts, the filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (“The Whale”), will take his turn at the Sphere with the Oct. 6 premiere of “Postcard from Earth.” Mr. Aronofsky describes the movie, filmed on seven continents with high-resolution “Big Sky” cameras designed specifically for the Sphere, as a “love letter to mother earth.” A short clip on his Instagram page shows a towering elephant treading above audience seats on the domed auditorium screen. Tickets range from $49 to $199.

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