The Sunsphere

The Sunsphere

History of the Sunsphere

The Sunsphere was constructed for the 1982 World's Fair and during that time, it served as the symbol to the Fair. It was also home to a full service restaurant and the Observation Deck, which cost $2.00 for the elevator ride up for a visit. The Sunsphere closed to the public with the Fair's end and remained vacant or underutilized for most of its post-fair life. The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only structures that remain from the 1982 World's Fair.

The city briefly reopened the Observation Deck sometime in 1999, but reclosed it so that the Public Building Authority could use the space for offices to oversee the construction of the Knoxville Convention Center. The Convention Center was complete in 2001, but the Observation Deck remained closed following its completion.

However, in 2005, Mayor Bill Haslam announced that the Sunsphere and Tennessee Amphitheater would be renovated for public use. In 2007 he announced that they would be renovated without use of taxpayer's money. Later that year, the Sunsphere's Observation Deck reopened to the public free of charge and Mayor Haslam held his Inaugural Address, for his second term in office, in the Amphitheater. In early 2008, privately-owned businesses took up residence on the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth levels of the Sunsphere.

The Observation Deck, 4th Level

The Observation Deck will be closed until further notice for renovations. Updates on the anticipated opening date will be posted here or you can contact the World’s Fair Park/Volunteer Landing Event Office to learn more. Please note that the Icon Ultra Lounge (level 5) and the Sunsphere Event Floor (level 6) have not been affected by the Observation Deck renovations. Levels 5 and 6 are open for business as usual.

The 4th level of the Sunsphere houses the Observation Deck. It offers a 360-degree view of the original 1982 World's Fair site (now World's Fair Park), downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee River, the University of Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains. There is no admission charge to visit the Observation Deck and access is limited to the double elevators facing the lake at the base of the Sunsphere and at the Convention Center level. The Hours of Operation of the Observation Deck are located at the top right of this page.

Dining, 5th Level

The 5th level of the Sunsphere houses a restaurant and bar called the Icon Ultra Lounge. Please see Contact Us for more information.

Leasing and Event Planning, 6th Level

The 6th level of the Sunsphere houses an event floor called the Sunsphere Event Floor. Please see Contact Us for more information.