In November 2024, Toronto will be inundated with Swifties – die-hard fans of singer-songwriter and global entertainment juggernaut Taylor Swift – who will spend their hard-earned cash on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of singing along as Swift belts out hits from her nearly two decades as a country and pop icon.
It’s expected that Swift’s Eras Tour concerts at the 50,000-seat Rogers Centre – which will run over six nights from Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 21-23, 2024 – could bring in upwards of $660 million to the city as nearly 300,000 fans spend more than $2,000 each on concert tickets, hotels, food, drinks, shopping, transportation and other spending, says Eric Alper, a Toronto-based music industry expert. Others peg the number anywhere from $800 million to $1 billion, depending on who attends and how much they want to splurge.
“It’s a huge economic boom when somebody like this decides to not just play the City of Toronto once, because that’s great, but to do it six times is simply unparalleled,” he says.
“All of the auxiliary businesses that are going to be in the downtown core are absolutely going to be getting a full-on effect from her playing there,” he explains. “In fact, the City of Toronto tourism board should be sending her a very nice holiday card this year and next year just simply because of the amount of taxes that they’re going to be generating.”
Not only will Swift bring in millions, but the tour will also lead to additional jobs as the city ramps up for an influx of tourists during the slow season of November, he adds.
Tickets for these Toronto shows were not limited to Canadians, he explains, so it’s possible people will be travelling from the U.S., particularly since the low Canadian dollar makes it cheaper for Americans to travel here, as well as from overseas since there’s been such high demand for Eras Tour tickets globally.
“Swifties are very dedicated fans. They’re treating this as a once in a lifetime experience,” says Daniel Tsai, a business professor at Toronto Metropolitan University. He estimates upwards of $80 million to be spent in Toronto’s economy.
“Normal economics don’t apply in these circumstances where you just splurge,” he explains.
So far, U.S. fans are spending more than US$1,300 on average to attend her concerts, according to a survey from research company QuestionPro, and the tour could generate US$5 billion in economic impact.
Hotels were booked solid in cities like Chicago when Swift played there, and in many locations hotel rates and restaurant bookings have jumped during dates when the tour is in town. In July, Chicago saw a US$140 million boost to its annual GDP when Swift toured there, reported the Common Sense Institute, a U.S. think tank.
Many Canadian Swifties were devastated when no Canadian dates were announced before the Eras Tour began. With no shows slated for Canada, many decided to travel to international locations such as Paris, Argentina, or London with plans to make it a memorable trip.
Swift’s apparent neglect of Canada did not go unnoticed in the country’s capital. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out a Tweet playing on Swift lyrics, “It’s me, hi. I know places in Canada would love to have you. So, don’t make it another cruel summer. We hope to see you soon.”
Other politicians also responded to the lack of Canadian dates. Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux filed an official grievance in the House of Commons, upset about the potential loss of massive revenue he felt Swift’s Eras Tour could have brought to the country.
And while Ottawa’s posturing around these events tends to be a public relations play for the Prime Minister and other politicians to look ‘hip’ and connect on social media with young voters who are also Swifties, says Moshe Lander, a sports economist and lecturer at Concordia University in Montreal, the economic impact of the Eras tour is real.
Tsai is not surprised politicians got in on the act. “Taylor Swift is going to generate $1 billion. It’s a no-brainer that any country would want Taylor Swift to show up to help boost their economy. It’s a good thing.”
One of Tsai’s friends got tickets to Swift’s concert in Paris and is making a big trip out of it, including travelling with a friend as well as her parents. “They want to make it a memorable lifetime experience,” including going to museums, art galleries and shopping.
If Toronto and the Rogers Centre play it right and contemplate having the roof of the building open and hosting tailgate parties, the economic impact could be even greater, says Tsai. The Rogers Centre is really one of the only venues in Canada large enough to host a star of her stature, he added.
The aim of this event should be to show top acts and sporting events that Toronto and Canada are great hosts, he says, and have the right infrastructure and people to handle big events. If the tour isn’t handled well, it could hinder our ability to attract other big events.
“Toronto should roll out the red carpet and have a lot of stuff that’s tied in with the Taylor Swift experience, and really look at it as an opportunity to showcase the city and the country.”