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How F1 will use Las Vegas Sphere as U2 pause residency

Formula 1 has explained how it plans to utilise the high-tech Sphere event facility for the period of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Las Vegas GP rendering

Photo by: Las Vegas GP

The race has obliged Irish rock band U2 to pause its residency at the recently-opened venue for over three weeks.

U2 has played a series of acclaimed concerts at the Sphere, which cost $2.3billion to build and features high definition video screens across its inner and outer surfaces.

However, because of the race, the band has had to take a break, playing its final show of the initial run on 4 November, before returning on 1 December for dates that currently extend into February.

F1 owner Liberty Media had to make a deal with the Sphere’s management because the track runs around it, and some of the surrounding land was required.

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei insisted that the company will recoup some of the cost of using the Sphere’s land, and in effect closing it for any other events.

“This year we have a relationship where we've leased effectively the Sphere, both internally and externally,” he explained.

Las Vegas GP rendering

Photo by: Las Vegas GP

Las Vegas GP rendering

“The race will be around the Sphere. So we're utilising their property. We will own all the advertising on the Sphere for the duration of the race for a fixed fee.

“We have bundled that into some [sponsorship] deals, and also sold advertising directly to parties during the race, which will defray part of our costs. It was a necessary cost for us, because we need to be on their land.

“But, in addition, it was a revenue opportunity for us to lease as I said, or sublease, the time on the Sphere.

"In addition, we're going to have a recovery brunch, and you will need to recover, on Sunday morning, in the Sphere. And we will be showing highlights of the race internally.”

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Maffei stressed that F1 hopes to make more use of the Sphere in future years, having had relatively little time to plan for the inaugural event.

“We have a long-term relationship with the Sphere, and I think we will have more programming in place,” he said.

“Partly because we didn't know if the Sphere would be done, and partly we were hustling to get ourselves done, that combination made it hard to programme for this year.

“But I think, in future years, we'll have a lot more going on. So even though people said why isn't U2 there this weekend? It's because we didn't know what would happen."

Speaking from the stage before the pause, lead singer Bono told fans why they would have to wait for another chance to see the show.

“As I mentioned we’re taking a little break after tonight,” he said. “We're giving Las Vegas back to F1.

“If you don’t know what F1 is, it’s a sport where very tidy, lean, mean men and some extraordinary women climb onto rockets and try to stay on earth and not achieve orbit, something like that. A little like rock 'n' roll, actually! Less dangerous.”

He also introduced the band as Max Verstappen [Dutch substitute drummer Bram van den Berg], Lewis Hamilton [Adam Clayton], Charles Leclerc [The Edge] and Daniel Ricciardo [himself].

He added: “I'm at home with country music and metal. And I am the right person to bring peace between F1 and NASCAR.”

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