We are less than a month away from the arrival of Taylor Swift, one of the world’s biggest pop stars bringing her Eras tour for a three-night gig to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. It’s no exaggeration to call it one of the biggest pop tours of all time, and likely the biggest local concert event of the year.
As a result, Swifties are going to need a game plan. Many of the advanced parking spots at the stadium are already sold out. And as those who have attended sold-out Tampa Bay Buccaneers games or other big concerts at RayJay have found out, traffic leading to the stadium can be miserable.
A predicted hourlong journey can easily take two to three, so plan well in advance if it’s your first time.
Heavy traffic is expected on Dale Mabry Highway, Himes Avenue, Columbus Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on all three nights, April 13, 14 and 15. The weeknight shows, which conflict with usual rush hour commuter traffic, are expected to be especially hectic. The Florida Department of Transportation’s Florida 511 Traveler Information System can help you plan your travel to the stadium. Or you can download the Waze app for real-time traffic information.
RayJay’s parking lots will open at 3 p.m. for all-day tailgating. Gates to the show open at 4:30 p.m., with the show starting at 6:30. For all parking lot policies, including ride share drop-off and pickup area information, see raymondjamesstadium.com/gettinghere.
Some Swifties may want to arrive with plenty of time to trade friendship bracelets and tailgate. But Tampa Police Department Capt. Patrick Messmer urged fans not to show up too early.
“Before the lots open up, cars will just back up on the roadways,” he said. “We really don’t want people to show up until the lots open up at the very earliest.”
There are HART bus routes that serve the stadium (7, 15, 32, 36 and 45), and bus stops are located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Himes Avenue that are a 15-minute walk away. See gohart.org for information.
If you look at the map of the Raymond James parking lots, you will find that many of the advanced parking spaces are sold out, but places like Lots 1, 8, 9 and the HCC lot are first-come, first-served on the day of the event. Those lots start at $53. After sold-out games and shows, stadium lots usually take about an hour to empty out.
Parking can also be found in the neighborhoods and businesses surrounding the stadium. Bring cash. Front yards go for $20 to $60 during a Bucs game, so expect to pay at least that much for a short walk to Tay-Tay.
Apps that allow you to scout and book parking locations include parkjockey.com and SpotHero, and you can reserve parking through seatgeek.com.
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If you’d prefer to use Lyft or Uber, the drop-off site and pickup zone is at Steinbrenner Field, across Dale Mabry from the stadium. Use the pedestrian bridge to get to the stadium.
When you have found a driver, be sure to communicate with them promptly as there may be road closures. There may also be surge pricing.
Those opting for ride sharing should be also prepared for long waits after the show, Messmer said. Fans at previous tour stops have waited two to three hours for Uber and Lyft.
“There’s a very good chance there could be capacity issues with the ride share system based on driver availability,” he said. “So they may want to consider just prepaying for parking, parking at one of the lots and carpooling the best they can.”
If you plan to drop off little Swifties, head to Steinbrenner Field. Enter the drop-off area from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. For pickup, stadium managers advise parents to arrive no earlier than 9:30 p.m., but probably no later than 10:30 to avoid long lines. Keep in mind that Swift’s first show on the tour in Glendale, Arizona, went for more than three hours.
Once you leave your car, remember the stadium has a no-bag policy in effect. Guests are only permitted to bring in one clutch purse no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches. If you forgot to leave your bag behind, there are storage lockers available for rent on Tom McEwen Boulevard, south of Gate C.