Monday, June 18, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Costumes? Cameras? Parking? Everything you need to know for Taylor Swift's Tampa concert Saturday

It's no exaggeration to call Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour, which stops at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Halloween, one of the biggest pop tours of all time.

"I would say this is the absolute biggest concert on the planet," said John Mayer, program director for Tampa Bay pop station 93.3-FLZ. "Taylor owns the world."

She's taking over Tampa, too. Starting at 3 p.m. Friday, FLZ will rebrand itself "Taylor 93.3" for nearly 36 hours — new logos, hours-long blocks of Swift's music, messages from the singer, ticket giveaways.

About 55,000 fans are expected at Saturday's show, the final North American stop on Swift's continent-conquering trek, making it by far the biggest local concert event of the year. To prepare you, we've compiled everything you need to know.

OMG: Taylor is amazing.

Isn't she, though?

Yes! But why?

She's arguably the most popular singer on earth, an acclaimed songwriter who conquered Nashville as a country-loving teen, won the Grammy for Album of the Year at 20, crossed into the pop realm and now rules that, too. Her smash album 1989 spawned the hits Shake It Off, Bad Blood and Blank Space, and is the frontrunner to win next year's Album of the Year, which would make Swift the first solo woman to win twice. She's the most-followed human on Instagram, has as many Twitter followers as Barack Obama, and she's only 25.

And don't forget her tour!

Ah, yes: 63 shows in North America alone, nearly half in stadiums, most sold out. By mid-October, it had already grossed $173 million in ticket sales, and untold millions more from merchandise.

How much of that will Taylor see?

In June, Forbes pegged Swift at No. 8 on its annual list of top-earning celebrities, with income of $80 million (she was the youngest solo person in the top 25). This year, Forbes estimates she'll rake in north of $100 million.

Doesn't each stop feature a surprise guest?

Mostly, yes. At more than half of her stops, Swift has brought out at least one celebrity pal — a member of her so-called "squad" — to sing a duet or simply hang out on stage. Past guests have included Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Miranda Lambert, Julia Roberts and the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. In Miami on Tuesday, her guests were Ricky Martin, Pitbull and Dwyane Wade.

Who's she bringing to Tampa?

No one knows but Taylor.

This show is on Halloween. Can I wear a costume?

Absolutely! Some rules: No masks, nothing oversized or obstructive, nothing with sharp points, and nothing offensive (organizers say use your best judgment there). Also, nothing that could be mistaken for a weapon (sorry, Bad Blood cosplayers). Costumes and signs requiring a battery pack must use no more than 3 AA batteries.

What else can't I bring?

Professional cameras including video cameras, GoPros, selfie sticks, backpacks and other large bags, strollers, lasers, drones, noisemakers and outside food or beverages. For all the rules, see raymondjamesstadium.com.

What happens if it rains?

That's unlikely, given the forecast. If it does storm — specifically, if we see lightning — there are safety plans in place. As for whether a canceled concert would be rescheduled? It's all speculation at this point, but that'll be up to Taylor and the Tampa Sports Authority.

Is the show sold out?

No, but it's getting there. If you haven't bought tickets yet, get on that.

How can I avoid buying a counterfeit ticket?

If you must buy from a scalper or third-party source, Tampa Police advise meeting at a place with security cameras. If possible, snap a photo of the seller's ID or car tag.

What's the parking situation?

In addition to any yards and distant lots where you might feel comfortable leaving your car, stadium parking is $25.

Twenty-five bucks?! Yeah, no thanks.

You can also drop off little Swifties west of the stadium, between Hillsborough Community College and Steinbrenner Field. Enter the drop-off area from Tampa Bay Boulevard. For pick-up, RayJay advises parents to arrive no earlier than 9:30 p.m., but probably no later than 10:30 to avoid long lines.

What's the schedule for Saturday?

The box office opens at 10 a.m., parking lots at 3, front gates at 5 and the show starts at 7. Singer-songwriters Shawn Mendes and Vance Joy play first, then Taylor performs for about two hours, starting between 8:30 and 9 p.m.. The show is tentatively scheduled to end around 10:45 p.m.

Is Taylor already in Tampa?

Probably not, but it's possible she's been hanging out in Florida all week. She performed in Miami on Tuesday, and her boyfriend, DJ Calvin Harris, has a show in Miami on Friday. If you see her in Tampa, drop us a line.

Can I meet her?

You can! But it's a little like winning the lottery. Tour sponsors and radio stations have been giving away meet-and-greets, but those are now closed. Your best hope now is to score an invite to her post-show fan party, dubbed "Loft '89."

HOW?!?

A lot of ingenuity and even more blind luck. Swift's handlers (including her mother) are known to hand out passes to enthusiastic fans at concerts, and occasionally through social media. Almost every Swiftie believes deep down she or he could be plucked from the masses to get in. One group of Tampa fans is planning a pre-show meetup at 1 p.m. at Al Lopez Park, and attendees are encouraged to fill out an online form pledging to remain calm and respectful if Swift herself shows up, "to keep peace and make sure she isn't bombarded by more people."

Do you really think she'd show?

Maybe? She has a reputation as a people-pleaser. Seems like the sort of thing she'd do.

OMG: Taylor is amazing.

Isn't she, though?

Times staff writer William R. Levesque contributed to this story. Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

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