Taylor Swift’s Tampa shows will achieve something even U2, Paul McCartney and Bowie couldn’t

Rock and roll’s biggest stars have all played local stadium shows—none have drawn the crowds Swift will.

Taylor Swift, who plays Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on April 13-15, 2023. - Tracy May
Tracy May
Taylor Swift, who plays Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on April 13-15, 2023.
There’s a long list of rock and roll legends that have played stadium shows in Tampa Bay, and they’ve all mostly drawn big crowds.

But what's about to go down at Raymond James Stadium this weekend is beyond the wildest dreams of any Tampa music historian—and even haters who see Taylor Swift as some kind of pop music vigilante will need to calm down when they see the proof.

In 1973, Allman Brothers (touring with Chicago) drew about 30,000 people to Tampa Stadium according to old newspaper clippings. Bowie pulled in an estimated 32,000 for his 1987 "Glass Spider" tour in the same venue.

U2—touring behind Joshua Tree, arguably one of the Top 10 pop albums of all time—didn’t crack the 60,000 mark when it played Tampa Stadium on Dec. 5, 1987.

Zeppelin, for its part, packed that old Sombrero in 1977, attracting close to 70,000 fans for a rescheduled concert that caused a disturbance after the show that got rained out after the second-song. Metallica was part of the 1988 Monsters of Rock Tour that drew about 35,000 to Tampa Stadium.

Paul McCartney sold all 60,000 tickets to his 1990 show at Tampa Stadium—which closed in 1998 when Raymond James opened—in just one day.

But Swift—who plays three, back-to-back-to-back, sold-out shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday—could potentially play for 150,000-200,000 fans this weekend at Raymond James which seats 65,000 for games and is expandable to 75,000. (A rep for the Tampa Sports Authority has yet to respond to requests for attendance estimates for Swift’s RayJay shows, but Swift’s 1989 tour in 2015 drew 55,358 fans while the 2019 Reputation show drew 52,920.)

Eric Snider, a current contributor and former music critic for Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, covered many of the aforementioned rock shows during his nearly six years with the St. Petersburg Times.

“I don’t recall any two-nighters, let alone a three-nighter,” Snider said.

Janet Scherberger, who was the Music Critic for the Tampa Tribune, also can’t remember any artist playing multiple nights at Tampa Stadium. “It's a testimony to the strength of her fan base, and she keeps gaining new fans,” Scherberger told CL.

Scherberger added that her own daughter, who’s in her 30s now, first saw Swift when she opened for Brad Paisley at the Ford Amphitheatre back in 2007. “They want to go. They're taking boyfriends, they're taking their husbands, and they are loyal fans—they grew up with her,” Scherberberger added.

And there’s something else U2, Metallica, Allman Brothers, Bowie, Led Zeppelin and McCartney won’t be able to do, and that’s match the revenue Swift is bringing in on this haul. Tickets to Zeppelin’s show at Tampa Stadium cost $10-$12 according to the Tribune—and yes, the internet has made it easier than ever to line up for tickets (and jack up prices on them)—but Billboard says the average cost of a ticket to Swift’s Eras tour is $215, with presales for the entire tour estimated at near $600 million.

It’s going to be a history-making affair this weekend, and you can bet that Swift’s fans are ready for it.