The big day is finally here: This Swiftie has made it to the Super Bowl.
I’ve spent the week in Las Vegas tracking all things Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. I asked him a non-football question at a press conference filled with sports journalists, went to the NFL’s version of the Oscars and even went to a strip club that offered the couple a $1-million package to stop by on Sunday.
But today is different. Today we may actually gain proximity to Swift herself. I have dozens of friendship bracelets, a comfortable pair of sneakers and my eagle eye. Follow along as I bring you all the Swelce news I can find.
9:30 a.m: The earliest media buses depart Mandalay Bay at 10:30 a.m.; my colleagues and I decide to arrive as early as possible just in case. As luck would have it, the driver decides to leave an hour early, getting us on the road to Allegiant Stadium with plenty of time to spare.
The drive to the stadium isn’t long — five minutes, tops. We could walk, but there are so many security barricades that the best course of action is to go the official route. It’s so early that there’s still not a lot of action on the streets outside the stadium — no one has set up makeshift T-shirt stands or food carts yet.
9:35 a.m: Aaaaand we’re here. The only other people in the line to have their bags checked are stadium workers, decked out in official jackets.
Allegiant Stadium opened in 2020 and it’s still got that shiny and bright sheen to it. The second-most expensive stadium in the world, ($1.9 billion), it crouches around its 65,000 seats, reflecting the growing swarm around it. I’ve heard some compare it to the Death Star, but I’m into it. I’ve never been to a non-college football game before (I know. Life is unfair.) Still, the tunnels look familiar to me — not only because I’ve been to concerts in other stadiums but because, obviously, these are exactly the kind of halls we’ve seen Swift walking down this season on her way to her seats.
10 a.m.: My credential gives me access to the service level, which is where a lot of the action seems to take place. There are boxes of doughnuts and huge bags of popcorn ready to be rolled to the concession stands. Big red bags with Kansas City Chiefs logos are stacked outside of the locker room. And at the end of a long walkway is a huge open-air garage, where the buses dropping off the players are set to arrive. I decide to post up here, hoping to catch a glimpse of Kelce in his pre-game fit.
11:37 a.m.: The NFL camera crew starts shifting their gear onto their shoulders, indicating something might be happening soon. It’s been colder than I expected in Vegas this week — today’s high is predicted to be 54 degrees — and it’s at least 15 degrees cooler on this dark, windy garage. So I’m really hoping Kelce steps off the bus. Alas, while a handful of KC players arrive — including Patrick Mahomes, in his trademark suit — Kelce isn’t among them.
11:58 a.m.: We have our first celebrity garage-sighting: Post Malone, who is singing “America the Beautiful” before the game today. He walks by leisurely, only to emerge with his posse a few times again shortly later, his guitar strapped around his neck. Reba McEntire, who is decked out in a fur coat I wish I was wearing, also arrives in time to get ready to sing the national anthem.
12:40 a.m: With less than thee hours until kickoff, Kelce has arrived — and he walks right past me. He’s looking remarkably shiny, dressed in what Vogue says is a sequin suit he had custom made for the occasion by Amiri. He’s wearing sunglasses and betrays no emotion as he struts in. “All right, Trav,” a woman next to me shouts. “Alright nah,” he responds, using his signature catchphrase from the “New Heights” podcast.
1 p.m.: A kind security guard has told me that all “friends and family” will be coming through this entrance, and I’m hoping that includes Swift. But my phone is at 15%, and I don’t want it to die before she comes, so I decide to chance it and book it up to the press box to grab my charger.
1:17 p.m.: A fellow reporter downstairs texts me that he sees some commotion coming from the side where the 49ers entered the stadium. (I’ve been on the Chiefs side.) I rush downstairs, until a slew of texts arrive on my phone: She’s here. And I missed her. How could this happen to me?
My colleague, Sam Farmer, caught some of the action and says she came in with Blake Lively, Ice Spice and her mother, Andrea.
The only thing that makes me feel slightly better is that she came in across the parking garage, far from my eye-line, and those close to her were apparently instructed by security to keep their phones down. That’s probably because the only ones who ended up getting a clear shot of her were the NFL cameras.
I missed this chance, but I will not give up. I have at least five hours left under the same roof as T.Swift.
1:30 p.m.: Back out in the sunshine, fans have started to trickle in. I spot a telltale sign of a Swiftie: A pink glittering heart painted around her eye, just like Swift rocked on her “Lover” album. It’s Sloan Moyer, 11, a Kansas City resident who found out last week her dad had surprised her and her family with tickets to the game. They’re big fans of the Chiefs and go to all the home games, but Sloan loves Swift the most. She’s been to three home concerts and supports her idol’s new romance.“I think it’s a good idea. I hope it moves on,” she said giddily. “I just love supporting her. I would, like, probably start crying or something if I saw her.”
1:45 p.m.: There are a handful of booths surrounding the stadium, selling standard Super Bowl merch and overpriced sodas. But Hunt Auctions catches my eye because they have a bunch of unique-looking memorabilia. I immediately ask Gary Reibsane, who is putting out the gear, to point out the Kelce items. He’s got six helmets signed by #87 on display ($925 to $1150) plus his jersey ($975) and a photo signed by both Mahomes and Kelce ($2,850.) How do they get the stuff signed? “We buy it in bulk from the autograph sellers,” Reibsane says. I ask if he thinks he’ll sell out of all of the Kelce items today. “Oh, this isn’t everything out there — there’s back-stock,” he grins.
2:20 p.m.: It’s nearing game time, and I’ve yet to head to the press box. I head up to find my two colleagues from the sports section, Gary Klein and Sam Farmer, ready with binoculars for me to borrow. As it turns out, Swift is posted in a box directly across the stadium from us, and we can see her if we just use the special lenses.
It’s weird to be trying to catch a glimpse of her this way instead of anxiously waiting for the TV to pan to her during a telecast at home. But knowing she’s 150 yards or so away from me is a different feeling altogether. My co-workers and I try to calculate when might be best to try to head over and catch a glimpse of her IRL instead of through the binoculars. I don’t feel comfortable revealing my strategy here, but let’s say I will not be remaining in the press box for this entire game.