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Sphere wows draft picks, GMs and fans on opening night of the NHL Draft


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Incredible. Amazing. Unreal. That was the consensus Friday about the opening night of the 2024 NHL Draft as the $2.3 billion Sphere wowed draft picks, general managers and fans.

The vibrant 18,000-seat building that is made up of a curving 270-degree screen that boasts 16k resolution LED panels wrapping around its orb-like structure, flashed brilliant visuals of the draft picks and team logos throughout the night.

“The atmosphere, the spectacle of it, you know, standing on the stage and making picks and looking up and seeing just that wall of people was pretty unique,” Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said. “After our third pick, we were waiting for Marek (Vanacker) to get down there and I took a picture because I just wanted to make sure that I documented that view because it was so incredible.”

The draft marked the first sports-themed event inside the venue since it opened in September.

“I didn’t really know what to expect at first,” No. 1 overall pick Macklin Cellibrini said. “But I was able to see the Sphere. And I mean, it was amazing when I saw it and it’s even better when it’s all set up for this event. But no, it’s a really cool experience. It’s amazing.”

Sixth-overall pick Tij Iginla said the Sphere was nothing like he’d ever seen before, and was taken aback when made aware his face may or may not have been displayed on the constantly shifting graphics display there are also displayed on the outside of the venue, just as the 2024 NHL Draft logo was all week leading up to the event.

“Yeah, that’d be cool,” Iginla said. “I would be interested to see a video what the outside looked like through the process.”

Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he was extremely proud, as the host team, to bring the final NHL Draft in its current format to Las Vegas.

“Been to many, many drafts over a long time and this was just so unique, so different, so superior for the players and their families,” McCrimmon said. “It had to be fascinating, and just really blown away by how good it was. Knew it would be and was impressed more so even than what I would have expected.”

On Wednesday, UFC used the Sphere’s massive exterior screen to announce what will be the first sports competition in the arena, scheduled for Sept. 14 as part of Mexican Independence Day weekend.

“This will be one of the biggest sporting events of all time,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement.


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