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New Athletics ballpark has famous, familiar aesthetics

Updated March 5, 2024 - 5:48 pm

Andrew Tierney looked at a text showing the rendering for the new Athletics stadium on the Strip and quickly texted back with … An Australian flag.

Tierney is a founding member of the Motown vocal group Human Nature, who arrived in Las Vegas 15 years ago, straight out of Sydney. Along with headlining on the Strip (and currently South Point Showroom), the quartet has performed at the Sydney Opera House.

The similarity between the Opera House and what is planned for the A’s ballpark is immediate for those who know the Sydney venue. Or, venues. Sydney Opera House is actually a collection of six entertainment halls.

When Las Vegas Philharmonic conductor Donato Cabrera saw the Athletics’ design, he quipped: “Will there be performances of ‘Aida’ between games?” referring to the tragic opera by Verdi.

Related: ‘Spherical armadillo’ or Sydney Opera House? Ballpark draws mixed reviews

Penn & Teller’s longtime manager, Glenn Alai, was asked if the Athletics’ stadium renderings reminded him of another venue. “One that we have played … And one that we are playing again next year.” P&T headlined Sydney Opera House in June 2022 and is planning a return in 2025.

The two venues as seen from a distance are not exact, but they are comparable. Many posters on social media were making the same observation.

Athletics owner John Fisher spoke to my colleague Mick Akers on Tuesday and conveyed that the Sydney Opera House was not a direct inspiration for the ballpark design.

Both facilities feature a shell-like overhang. Opera House’s famous characteristic is a series of rounded, concrete panels. Its architectural design is recognized by arts enthusiasts worldwide.

The Athletics ballpark shows five similarly curved, overlapping tiers.

Bjarke Ingels Group Architects (BIG Architects) is the lead designer on the Athletics’ 33,000-capacity stadium, with an estimated construction cost of $1.5 billion. is the design lead, with Kansas City-based engineering company HNTB the architect of record.

Sydney Opera House was designed by the late Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who prevailed in an international competition of venue designers for the honors. Work began in 1958 but was stalled by scheduling and cost overruns and Utzon’s resignation. Australian architect Peter Hall steered the project to completion.

The Opera House finally opened in October 1973, with Queen Elizabeth presiding over the formal ceremony. No opening night superstar has yet been hired for the Athletics opener, though Andrea Bocelli could be available for the national anthem. The Italian tenor has headlined across the street at MGM Grand.

Asked for his assessment of the coincidental designs, Tierney offered, “Talent borrows. Genius steals.”

The automated e-mail to Sydney Opera House’s media relations staff for comment: “Our team will endeavour to respond to you within 48 hours.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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