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Fact Check: Has the Las Vegas Sphere Been Damaged by Tropical Storm Hilary?
Fact Check: Has the Las Vegas Sphere Been Damaged by Tropical Storm Hilary?

As Tropical Storm Hilary’s rainfalls sweep Southern California, with Governor Gavin Newsom declaring a state of emergency across multiple counties, photos and film emerged of the Los Angeles Dodgers stadium surrounded by flood water.

The storm is expected to cross into southern Nevada, hitting Las Vegas, with the National Weather Service (NWS) warning early on Monday that heavy rainfall had continued overnight for much of the state, with the region under flash flooding warnings.

As the rain began to hit Las Vegas, another highly recognizable major venue was also said to have been impacted by the storms; video of the Sphere at the Venetian resort appeared to show the entertainment venue flickering a purple and black graphic across its massive LED screen, leading some to claim it had broken down.

Sphere Las Vegas

The Claim

Multiple posts on X, formerly Twitter, claim that the rain caused by Tropical Storm Hilary has damaged the Sphere in Las Vegas.

One post by @VegasIssues, posted on August 20, 2023, and viewed 2.3 million times, read: “The rain has taught us that the Sphere is not waterproof. Hopefully it’s still under warranty.”

The rain has taught us that the Sphere is not waterproof. Hopefully it’s still under warranty. pic.twitter.com/Y4bUNOeajE

— Las Vegas Issues (@VegasIssues)

Another by @amuse, posted August 19, viewed 4.3 million times, read: “You can’t make this up… the massive video sphere in Las Vegas isn’t water proof. The architects must not have realized that it rains in Vegas.”

The Facts

The Sphere is a reportedly $2.3 billion entertainment venue that boasts a 20,000-person standing capacity.

Although yet to open, clips and photos of the massive structure’s external LED light display have gathered huge attention online. It was lit up for the first time in July this year.

The notion that this multi-billion dollar building had been brought down by rain, just over a month away from its reported scheduled open date of September 29, could well have been a potentially costly setback.

However, the video does not show the Sphere being damaged by rain. A spokesman told Newsweek that the claim Sphere had been damaged by rain was “totally false.”

It’s understood that the projection is part of routine test patterns displayed on the Sphere’s screen intermittently over the past few months. Photos of similar purple and black displays were captured by Getty Images earlier in August. Videos of the effect were also shared on YouTube and Twitter.

The National Weather Service has warned Vegas residents against driving through flooded streets, writing on X: “There is water ponding across portions of the Las Vegas Valley. Though the water is not flowing, it may become too deep for cars to drive through it. Do not risk it; turn around, don’t drown.”

The amount of rainfall expected to fall in Nevada has raised hopes among residents that the storm could finally raise Lake Mead’s water levels, which have been suffering the devastating impact of a 20-year ongoing drought. But officials have tried to manage residents’ expectations, saying that the heavy rainfall accompanying Hilary won’t be enough to reverse a decades-long crisis.

The Ruling

Misleading Material.

The video shared online does not show the Las Vegas Sphere has been damaged by Tropical Storm Hilary. It’s understood the purple and black images on the venue are part of its routine testing ahead of its scheduled launch in September.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team

This content was originally published here.