When it comes to attending an NFL game, Taylor Swift is just like us – The Washington Post

Among the thousands of videos that show Taylor Swift attending Kansas City Chiefs games this NFL season, one clip remains oddly riveting: On Oct. 1, as Swift arrived for the Chiefs’ game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., she walked into a bland, cavernous area at MetLife Stadium. She set her black leather jacket on a conveyor belt that went through a screening machine, walked through a metal detector, briefly showed one guard her hands, picked up her jacket on the other side of the machine and put it on.
This was pop megastar Taylor Swift, required like any other civilian to go through security. Her celebrity entourage lined up behind her; Blake Lively stopped to put her purse through the machine while her husband, Ryan Reynolds, not carrying any accessories, strolled right on through the detector.
It was a rare glimpse of the unglamorous, strictly regimented and heavily controlled process of getting a superstar into a suite at an NFL game, a routine that looks fairly simple but requires countless details and logistics to go right. Swift, as the most famous singer on the planet, has put a spotlight on this process ever since she started dating star Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce last year, showing up at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and beyond. But NFL teams have spent years refining their protocols for VIP guests, particularly in the era of social media when stars can boost a team’s profile with a single photo.
The Jets have seating at MetLife that they usually hold for celebrities and influencers, and if they need additional space, the team’s ticketing department can often find room. At that Chiefs-Jets game in October, “Succession” star Jeremy Strong was also in the building. Though Swift dominated the headlines, the Jets’ social media team quickly capitalized on Strong’s presence with a widely shared tweet that referenced one of the show’s most famous lines.
“We want to make sure that we’re inviting people out and they have a great experience, but we’re also benefiting because we’re getting great pictures, we’re getting great content from the people who are coming as our guests,” said one NFL executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person is not authorized to speak to the media.
The Los Angeles Rams employ both a director of social media and influencers and an associate manager of influencers. The Rams also have a dedicated marketing hosting suite reserved for higher-profile fans they invite. Lakers star LeBron James and rapper Dr. Dre are regular attendees at SoFi Stadium for Rams games. They show up, go to their suites, maybe appear on the big screen during the game but otherwise do their own thing.
Sometimes NFL teams invite celebrities in an effort to build relationships or expand their marketing reach. Other times, celebrities ask to come, sometimes turning to contacts with the teams to try to score VIP treatment.
Teams often (though not always) provide complimentary tickets to celebrities, especially those they invited. But no matter if that celebrity arrives solo or with a group of 12, each member must have a ticket. Teams are often generous about merchandise, too — and with a purpose. The Jets, for example, provide hats to high-profile guests, and if a celebrity just so happens to take a photo while wearing the new hat, it’s free marketing. Win-win.
Other times, teams provide a more customized experience, such as when the Rams hosted baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani for their final home game, against the New Orleans Saints on a Thursday night. Ohtani had landed a 10-year, $700 million contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers days earlier and received the red-carpet treatment at SoFi, which was designed with celebrity fans in mind.
The stadium has a service level that can accommodate buses and cars and has multiple parking lots for team owners and high-profile guests. And though most celebrities still have to cross paths with the general public to make it to their suites, those lucky enough to stay in the ownership boxes have private elevators to whisk them to and from their cars and suites.
Ohtani got that treatment. He parked in the lower level and was escorted out to the field pregame, where he received a custom Rams jersey. Then he was led to a private elevator and up to team owner Stan Kroenke’s suite.
At any stadium, when A-list stars ask to use a special entrance away from the general public, they make that request through the venue, said Jeff Spoerndle, vice president of BEST Crowd Management, which provides event security services. If that’s approved, the stars typically arrive with their own security details — though eventually they team up with venue security, which helps them get from Point A to Point B before the game starts.
“As the star or the celebrity is being escorted through the facility, you have their personal protection,” Spoerndle said. “Then generally there’s stadium personnel that’s assigned to the detail, just to make sure that they’re taking the most efficient route in the building to get from where they enter to ultimately where their seats are and ensuring that they have a safe and secure experience.”
Often, a team official will escort celebrities and their groups to suites and guide them back down when they want to leave or go on the field. Security details for the highest-profile celebrities may ask to do an early walk-through to get an understanding of how they’ll get from their car to their suite without issue.
During last week’s Buffalo Bills playoff game against the Chiefs, some fans on social media noticed that there were more guards than usual lined up outside the Swift suite — where Kelce’s brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, was spotted cheering shirtless and chugging beers — and speculated that the Bills’ fan base might be rowdier than most.
Forget Taylor Swift. Beer-guzzling Jason Kelce was the star of Bills-Chiefs.
Spoerndle said each stadium has a different risk assessment: How tall is the wall leading into the suite? Are there seats all the way up to the wall, or is there a walkway? Is there a stairwell?
“Each facility has a unique security plan that they put in place for their entire building based on its design and the risk of what’s going on,” he said. “So based on that, the professionals in that building are making a decision on how they want to secure this scenario.”
Another favorite tradition for Swifties has been to see if Swift and Kelce will walk out of the stadium tunnel together (sometimes hand in hand). According to Spoerndle, the exit from the venue is a bit more complicated because of the sheer number of people moving around the facility at the end of a game, and an extra layer of security is needed to make sure the celebrity is approved by the team and credentialed to gain access to certain areas.
But through it all, even though celebrities get perks, when it comes to the mundane process of navigating through a stadium, stars are mostly just like us.
“I don’t care who you are. I actually have the video of Taylor Swift going through security at MetLife,” said Kristen Kolbeck, the Rams’ senior manager of stadium operations. “So if anyone ever complains, well, Taylor can do it, so can you.”

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