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MSG Sphere construction halted; Las Vegas opening delayed by coronavirus

Updated March 31, 2020 - 7:09 pm

Developers of MSG Sphere at The Venetian no longer expect to finish next year as they pull the plug on construction because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Madison Square Garden Co. announced Tuesday it is suspending construction of the $1.66 billion Las Vegas entertainment venue, saying all work will stop over roughly the next two weeks.

The New York sports and entertainment company, which partnered with casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. on the off-Strip project, said it “looks forward to quickly and efficiently resuming construction as soon as practicable.”

But the global fallout from the new virus has led to “significant impediments to construction,” including disruptions to its supply chain, and it no longer expects to open the venue in 2021 as previously planned.

It did not say in the press release when it expects to finish the project.

Madison Square Garden Co. declined further comment. Las Vegas Sands declined to comment.

Nevada is one of many states to allow construction during the pandemic while other businesses, including casinos, have been forced to close to contain the virus’ spread. However, MSG Sphere is the second major project being built in Las Vegas to shelve construction amid the outbreak, and the first to announce its expected opening date was delayed over the fallout.

Drew Las Vegas owner Steve Witkoff’s namesake firm said two weeks ago that it “paused construction crews” from coming on-site at the north Strip hotel-casino – the unfinished former Fontainebleau – and asked corporate employees to work from home.

State officials have released guidance saying Nevada construction sites should ensure workers remain 6 feet apart, restrict meetings and gatherings to no more than 10 people and conduct daily surveys of workers’ health conditions.

Two high-profile projects – the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas hotel-casino and the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium – have both confirmed that one of their workers tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Their assigned work areas and surrounding vicinities were shut down and sanitized, representatives said.

Madison Square Garden Co. and Las Vegas Sands held a ceremonial groundbreaking for MSG Sphere in 2018. The 17,500-seat spherical venue, at the corner of Sands Avenue and Koval Lane, just east of the Strip, is expected to feature massive video screens inside and out.

It would be able to have different types of images on the exterior, including a “see-through” mode that would make the building appear invisible.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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