U2, Pauli 'The PSM' Lovejoy, and the Marvel That Is Las Vegas Sphere
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New York Knicks owner James Dolan is the money behind the $2.3 billion marvel in Las Vegas known as Sphere. It’s worth reading again that James Dolan, arguably one of the most demonized owners in basketball, is the money behind arguably the next great leap in entertainment.

It’s all a useful reminder that what presently exists as a major lure for visitors to Las Vegas (a city already possessing myriad significant lures) likely began as an idea that more than a few wise minds turned their noses up to. If you’re wondering how the previous assertion could be true, consider yet again the person behind the money behind one of the biggest entertainment stories of the past year.

The simple truth is that Sphere is redefining the concert experience. And if the latter reads as hyperbole, the speculation here for those who feel that way is that they haven’t seen a concert there.

In my case, I’m neither a big consumer of music nor a particular fan of U2. All of which speaks to the genius of Sphere. The video, the lights, and the sound make for an amazing concert experience regardless of your musical tastes, or even your level of fandom in a particular band. At risk of sounding trite, despite U2’s long tenure as one of music’s foremost stadium acts, Sphere was the star vis-à-vis U2 in Las Vegas.

Indeed, a case could be made that Pauli ‘The PSM’ Lovejoy, the DJ extraordinaire who has been U2’s opening act in Vegas, was more entertaining than the band he opened for. Keep in mind that Lovejoy ably entertained fans with a fraction of the special effects employed within Sphere for U2.

At the same time, the U2 concert was spectacular. Undoubtedly so. Imagine pairing a popular live act with some of the best special lighting effects in the world. Again, U2 was already a major draw only for Sphere to have arguably expanded its legion of fans with effects that make concert-going quite a bit more entertaining than traditional arena or stadium venues.

It all raises obvious questions about the future. Think about the bands lined up to increase their already substantial popularity as live acts, but also lesser known acts eager to achieve popularity on the shoulders of Sphere. The simple truth, as evidenced yet again by the initial funds behind Sphere, is that seemingly no one saw this coming. This includes U2.

As reported in a Variety article about the concert venue, U2’s longtime creative director thought Sphere was a “terrible idea.” That he did shouldn’t surprise us.

If the smart money or wise minds of entertainment had thought a circular venue for concerts (and movies) a great idea, then there would already be lots of Sphere-like venues around the U.S. and around the world. And there would have been lots of money not associated with Dolan behind those projects.

Which is why Dolan deserves so much credit. As Oklahoma State professor Steve Trost repeats over and over again (thankfully), entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they believe deeply in a commercial concept that those around them think is ridiculous. Entrepreneurs invent all-new futures precisely because they see a different one.

This is particularly impressive with regard to Dolan simply because Las Vegas was already (and as previously mentioned) a global lure dense with entertainment options. Despite that, Dolan put his money and reputation behind something all new. It’s a loud reminder that Sphere’s success wasn’t a foregone conclusion, rather it’s a miracle. In a city packed with options for those aggressively pursuing a good time, Dolan managed to create one that packs in over 20,000 awestruck attendees each night it’s open for concerts. A miracle indeed.

Dolan has long suffered the arrows related to his inheritance of his visionary father’s cable business, along with his poor stewardship of the Knicks. While wise minds can debate the latter, they can no longer credibly debate the former. Like his father, evidence of Dolan’s vision can be prominently found with a look at one of the world’s most recognizable and prominent skylines. With Sphere, Dolan has doubtlessly earned the rare and coveted designation of entrepreneur.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His latest book, set for release in April of 2024 and co-authored with Jack Ryan, is Bringing Adam Smith Into the American Home: A Case Against Homeownership

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