People in Las Vegas Are Paying $15 Just to Look at the Sphere

A parking garage is suddenly Sin City's most unlikely tourist attraction thanks to its unobstructed views of the Sphere.

The Sphere looking camera ready. | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Sphere looking camera ready. | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
With a year of unparalleled activity and worldwide attention ahead, Las Vegas is in the midst of a major transformation. This week, all bets are off as we head to the desert to explore this exciting moment and what it means for the future of Sin City. Read more here.

You know something is a big deal when people are forking over cash just to take a good photo of it. The Sphere has reshaped the Las Vegas skyline in dramatic fashion, and while tickets are required to see U2 or Darren Aronofsky's Postcard From Earth inside, the show on the venue's massive dome-shaped exterior is absolutely free. You just need a good vantage point to check it out—and for some, that's worth paying a few dollars.

Four parking garages at the neighboring Hughes Center just happen to have the best up-close, unobstructed views of the Sphere. Most of the spaces are reserved for tenants who work on campus throughout the day, but operator LAZ Parking has opened up the lots to the general public after 6 pm, taking advantage of the sudden interest in the new attraction.

"Once the Sphere was almost fully done, we started getting a ton of extra vehicle traffic in the area," LAZ Parking general manager Brandon Myers said. "And once they turned the lights on, it just became a spectacle in the middle of the desert. We were getting endless lines of people offering to pay to park, just to stand on top of the garage and take a picture of the Sphere, so we just embraced it."

LAZ Parking staffed up and now has a small army in yellow safety vests to take payments with digital handheld devices and direct traffic with illuminated red batons. The northernmost garage, which has the best views, fills up first.

"It was worth it," Marcos Gomez said after paying to park at the garage last week. "Even better than I thought it would be." Gomez has a personal connection to the Sphere. He's one of the union ironworkers who helped build it after the ground was broken more than five years ago. "The whole structure is 90% iron," he said with pride. "From the core all the way to the top."

The Sphere seen from the Venetian Resort
The Sphere seen from the Venetian Resort | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Sphere seen from the Venetian Resort | Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

For the Sphere Experience, parking is $25. The price jumps to $35 on nights U2 performs—in line with what the Sphere-adjacent Venetian charges, but with a much shorter walk. Another perk is that you can reserve a spot online with a space guaranteed, and refunds are available if you cancel with at least 24 hours notice. There are about 4,500 parking spaces at Hughes Center. LAZ Parking operates 2,300 of them for Sphere visitors and another 1,000 for Sphere employees.

Rick McArthur, a tourist from Salt Lake City, was at the garage the same night as Gomez. He parked there for the convenience of seeing Postcard From Earth but couldn't help lingering afterward, soaking in the sight of the Sphere and taking a few photos. "It's well worth the money," he said. "It was amazing, almost eerie what the technology is."

The exosphere is an astounding presence, stretching 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, covered in LED panels that show off innovative, high-definition designs. It's also the world's most expensive billboard, with recent programming dedicated to Disney's latest superhero flick, The Marvels, and Coca-Cola's new Y3000 Zero Sugar campaign, featuring the Jonas Brothers and Marshmello.

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Rob Kachelriess is a full-time freelance writer who covers travel, dining, entertainment, and other fun stuff for Thrillist. He's based in Las Vegas but enjoys exploring destinations throughout the world, especially in the Southwest United States. Otherwise, he's happy to hang out at home with his wife Mary and their family of doggies. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.