Swifties, Chicago prepare for Taylor Swift’s Soldier Field dates

Taylor Swift performs three sold-out shows at Soldier Field this weekend. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Ava Preziosi, 12, wears matching crew neck Taylor Swift ‘The Eras Tour’ sweatshirts with her mom Jaime Preziosi, 45, a day before Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour outside Soldier Field, Thursday, June 1, 2023

Ava Preziosi, 12, wears matching crew neck sweatshirts with her mom Jaime Preziosi, 45, who got her daughter into Taylor Swift’s music, a day before Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour outside Soldier Field, Thursday, June 1, 2023. The crew neck sweatshirts have become viral online. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Taylor Swift — and thousands of Swifties — will descend on Soldier Field for three nights this weekend for the pop megastar’s The Eras Tour.

Swift will perform at Soldier Field on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but some Swifties were already at the venue Thursday to buy merchandise.

Mabel Phillips drove from South Lyon, Michigan, north of Ann Arbor, with her mom, Kristin, for the Saturday show. She walked away from the merchandise booth Thursday afternoon carrying four bags of Taylor gear, including a coveted blue crewneck, currently selling on resale sites for more than four times the retail price of $65.

“I’m, like, the biggest Swiftie ever,” said Phillips, a 21-year-old nursing student at Michigan State University. “I have been waiting months for this merch.”

Soldier Field will open its doors at 4:30 p.m., and shows will begin at 6:30 p.m., according to the stadium website.

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Mabel Phillips places her newly purchased Taylor Swift shirts and sweatshirts in a plastic bag a day before the first of Taylor Swift’s three shows at Soldier Field. Phillips and her mother traveled from Michigan for the show.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Each show will feature two openers before Swift hits the stage, which fan-published set lists indicate happens around 8 p.m. most nights. On Friday and Saturday, singers OWENN and girl in red will open the show. On Sunday, MUNA and Gracie Abrams will perform.

Securing tickets was no small task for many Swifties. When tickets became available for presale on Ticketmaster in November, the site crashed, leaving many fans with presale access without tickets.

Phillips was one of the lucky fans who secured tickets during presale. She said she skipped a test to wait for her turn to buy tickets. But she said it was worth it.

Some disgruntled fans who left the presale empty-handed are now suing Ticketmaster.

“Art should be accessible to everyone,” said Jennifer Kelly, an Elmhurst resident and one of 355 plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “You shouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars to see your favorite artist.”

But that’s exactly what some Swifties did. On Thursday, tickets to Friday’s show were selling for no less than $1,200 a piece on resale sites like StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats.

Michelle Jones, also a plaintiff in the suit, isn’t letting the hefty resale price stop her from experiencing The Eras Tour. Jones does not have a ticket but plans to drive more than five hours from Paducah, Kentucky, to tailgate and talk to other Swifties about the lawsuit.

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Sisters Ellie Little (left), 12, and Kate Little, 15, bought merchandise a day before The Eras Tour’s first Chicago date. They came from Cincinnati with their mom for Friday’s show.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

At tour stops across the country, fans without tickets have “Taylor-gated” outside venues. In Philadelphia, crowds of Swift fans who couldn’t secure tickets to the show gathered outside to sing and dance to the music booming from inside the stadium.

No tailgating will be allowed after Swift’s performance begins, Chicago Park District spokesperson Luca Serra said in an email. He added that fans can gather on the nearby lakefront, but they may be “disappointed” by how much they can hear from there.

Chicago Police Department spokesperson Tom Ahern wouldn’t say whether officers would disperse crowds that might form outside the stadium, but he said the department would have an increased presence patrolling the area around the venue.

“Concert resources include an increased police and command staff presence at Soldier Field, the Museum Campus and the surrounding area,” Ahern said in an email.

The city’s curfew for minors will also be in effect, Ahern added.

“We strongly encourage parents to accompany their teens or have them remain under the supervision of a responsible adult,” Ahern said.

Chicago’s curfew for kids under 18 goes into effect at 10 p.m. and allows police to stop teens who are out and ask them to return home. It doesn’t apply to minors participating in or coming home from a ticketed event if they have the stub or wristband to prove it.

And, Ahern said, officers outside the arena will be on the lookout for potential scalpers before all concerts.

Any scalpers will be subject to arrest, he said.

Taylor Swift merchandise was on sale outside Soldier Field on Thursday. Swift plays the stadium for three nights starting Friday.

Taylor Swift merchandise was on sale outside Soldier Field Thursday. Swift plays the stadium for three nights, starting Friday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Parking lots will open at 2 p.m., but parking passes have already sold out, Soldier Field’s website states. Some parking will be available at McCormick Place on a first-come, first-served basis, and shuttles will operate between Soldier Field and Millennium Park garages.

Soldier Field’s website advises concertgoers to use public transit instead of driving. The CTA will run additional trains and No. 146 bus service to and from Soldier Field this weekend.

A CTA news release noted concertgoers can use No. 3, 4, 12 and 130 buses to get to and from Soldier Field. The nearest L stop is the Roosevelt station, which can be accessed by Red, Green and Orange lines.

Ride-hailing and parent pickup will occur on Columbus Drive between Roosevelt Road and Balbo Drive after the show. Shows on The Eras Tour typically run until around 11:30 p.m.

Catalina Dominguez, 17, from Chicago, shows off a blue Taylor Swift crewneck sweatshirt that she bought outside Soldier Field.

Catalina Dominguez, 17, of Chicago, displays a blue Taylor Swift crewneck sweatshirt she bought Thursday outside Soldier Field. Dominguez said she showed up to buy the sweatshirt a day early because she was afraid they would sell out. The sweatshirts are selling for four times the $65 retail price on resale sites.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The NFL’s clear bag policy will be in place for this event, according to the Soldier Field website. Attendees may bring clear bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and small clutch bags no larger than 412 inches by 612 inches.

Prohibited items include food and beverages, personal items that could disturb other attendees and professional cameras and recording equipment. A full list of prohibited items is available on the Soldier Field website.

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