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Ben Graves thanks Taylor Swift for the biggest weekend in Minneapolis in years.

Many rooms at his four Twin Cities hotels — two downtown, one in Uptown and the Intercontinental at the airport — booked at more than $500 a night before the iconic singer's Friday and Saturday night Eras Tour shows last weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium, which attracted around 500,000 visitors downtown.

Ahead of the shows, the Graves Hospitality chief executive said he thought it was "going to be bigger than any of the major concerts" the city has hosted in the past five years.

"Even pre-pandemic," he said. "It really feels more like a Super Bowl or a Final Four."

Although it's too soon to calculate the total economic impact for these T-Swift concerts, the city does know the effect of those major sporting events.

The economic impact of Super Bowl LII in February 2018 was $450 million in gross local spending, with more than a million visits to Nicollet Mall festivities in a 10-day stretch, according to a Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee report. The 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four resulted in $143 million in economic impact, according to Rockport Analytics. The 2022 NCAA Women's Final Four produced $34 million in net new economic output, according to CSL International.

Tens of thousands of Swifties — at least 128,906 ticketholders — descended upon Minneapolis and the surrounding metro area for the shows and jumpstarted the Twin Cities economy as hotels, restaurants, breweries and malls wooed the concertgoers who came from around North America.

Fans waited for the doors to open Friday, June 23, for the first of two Taylor Swift concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Fans waited for the doors to open Friday, June 23, for the first of two Taylor Swift concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune

Because of unprecedented demand and trouble buying tickets in other cities, civic boosters counted on fans like Canadian couple Becky and Nathan King to visit.

While in town for Swift's concert from Regina, Saskatchewan, they went to a Twins game at Target Field, dined at Fogo de Chao Steakhouse, visited the Mall of America and hoped to squeeze in a meal at the classic Murray's steakhouse all during their stay at the Moxy near U.S. Bank Stadium.

"We're here spending our money because she's not coming to Canada," Becky King said.

Beyond Swift, the Twin Cities Pride festival and a Kiwanis International Convention also brought thousands more into downtown Minneapolis.

But concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium in particular tend to boost downtown hotels, with occupancy-rate highs on concert nights climbing more than 95% for last year's Eric Church and Kenny Chesney shows, according to Meet Minneapolis. Swift's June 23 concert night resulted in 9,888 rooms occupied on that Friday night, a record high for Minneapolis with six more hotels than last year.

"The concert brings in people who stay the night and will do other things," Graves said.

More workers were on the job as well. Instawork staffing firm found more temporary hiring around Taylor Swift concerts — especially in cities where the venue was in a downtown, like in Minneapolis — and the same was true here.

"Looking at a five-mile radius around U.S. Bank Stadium but excluding the half-mile radius around the stadium itself, we saw almost 200% more shifts booked on June 23 and over 100% more on June 24 versus the average for the previous week," Instawork's Chief Economist Daniel Altman said via email. "There was a clear boost to economic activity in the area beyond the stadium."

Taylor Swift performs Friday, June 23, in front of a sold-out crowd at US Bank Stadium.
Taylor Swift performs Friday, June 23, in front of a sold-out crowd at US Bank Stadium.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Given the singer's loyal following, businesses also went after the fans who didn't score tickets with Taylor Swift-themed trivia nights, after parties, drag brunches and karaoke nights. Some just added Swift-themed menu items, like the Lavender Haze cocktail at Farmers Kitchen + Bar close to the stadium.

Inbound BrewCo in the North Loop planned several days of events for concertgoers and others as well, plus a friendship bracelet lounge and Eras beverage pairings at the bar.

"We knew that we could be a place where the people who couldn't get tickets also could come celebrate," general manager Emily Elmer said.

The Mall of America renamed the North Atrium the TAYtrium in honor of the singer and added extra buses that fans booked to go to the shows.

After wishing she and her bestie had photos of themselves decked out for a Taylor Swift concert, Molly Sanchez, a Minneapolis wedding photographer, booked 24 shoots outside U.S. Bank Stadium before the concerts. The packages started at $125 for five photos and a moving-picture GIF.

"I was really surprised that a lot of people booking my mini sessions are from out of state," Sanchez said before the concerts. "People are coming from Mississippi, Michigan, Iowa, South Dakota, and they're looking for things to do."

Airbnb host Barb Johnson normally sees summer bookings of her "Seward House" start in spring, but two separate groups booked the Minneapolis rental in January for the Friday and Saturday of the concert weekend. In fact, one group asked recently to book extra guests who couldn't find hotel rooms.

"It's certainly bringing people here," she said ahead of the shows.

And that's a welcome burst of traffic for Minneapolis boosters. The weekend provided a much-needed morale boost for the city — which the mayor even renamed Swiftieapolis — where the central business district has struggled to recover with fewer office workers than pre-pandemic and other visitors wary of potential crime.

Melvin Tennant, who heads Meet Minneapolis, sees the successful weekend as the perfect talking point to attract more conventions and events to downtown.

"For us, it's really great when we have this convergence of events," Tennant said. "That's the ideal scenario for us."