Bon Jovi’s Soul Keep On Rocking Toward Title


July 16, 2008

Jon Bon Jovi’s next stop on the road has nothing to do with his band’s tour. Fresh off a free concert in Central Park, Bon Jovi is taking a break.

The rocker’s Arena Football League team keeps on going. Up ahead for the Philadelphia Soul — the San Jose Sabercats in the ArenaBowl XXII in New Orleans. Bon Jovi will be there, but he’ll leave his guitar and his greatest hits behind.

“I’m going there as the owner of the Soul,” Bon Jovi said on Tuesday.

Jon Bon Jovi was set to meet with the Soul and the coaching staff before the band’s final concert Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The team planned to present Bon Jovi with the National Conference trophy.

“It’s really rewarding,” he said by phone hours before the final show. “We’re proud of the whole organization. We’ve built a team of character. Coach (Bret) Munsey has been everything that we’ve hoped for. Fingers crossed, one more to go.”

The Soul won their first nine games and the Eastern Division title, and beat the Cleveland Gladiators 70-35 on Saturday to advance to their first title game. San Jose has won three of the last six ArenaBowl’s and is looking to become the first repeat champions in 12 years. The Soul defeated San Jose 58-57 back in April.

They get at least a night to celebrate with their famous boss.

“Then they can go back and get to work,” Bon Jovi said.

Sure, San Jose has all the titles, but it doesn’t have the worldwide recognition that Bon Jovi gives the Soul on every tour stop. He wears the Soul jersey at packed arenas around the globe and even dedicated a tune to the band at Saturday night’s free concert in front of 60,000 fans on the park’s Great Lawn.

While the concert started hours after the Soul won the conference title, Bon Jovi was too jittery to watch. He caught a replay of league MVP Matt D’Orazio leading the Soul to victory after the concert was finished.

“It was impossible for me to consider watching it live,” he said. “I would have been too caught up in it. So I shut off the phones and the computer and television, closed the doors and just concentrated on playing Central Park that night.”

Bon Jovi then performed at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday as part of its “Lost Highway” tour.

“I feel like a prize fighter answering that bell for the 15th round and I’ve got to go to the Garden,” he said.

One arena the band likely won’t play again is the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Spectrum, once home to title-winning 76ers and Flyers teams, will close in 2009 and be demolished to make way for an entertainment development. Bon Jovi, whose band played there 14 times, called the arena’s closing a “sad day.”

“It’s a dark day in Philadelphia,” he said. “It’s a great piece of history. Some of my favorite (memories), some of my greatest, both as the owner of the Soul, as a performer, and even as a concert goer (were there).”

Bon Jovi planned a short vacation before heading to New Orleans. Bon Jovi — who has become as much of a philanthropist as he has a rock star — once donated $1 million to Oprah’s Angel Network to help aid in relief of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Serving as the face of his band, his football team and his charitable foundation tires Bon Jovi, but he has no plan to give up any of his jobs. He wants to own an NFL team one day, though he has no plans of selling the Soul.

“It’s been a lot of fun, it really has,” he said. “We’re really made an impression now in Philadelphia and the league. We’re certainly one of, if not the premier team in the league. We’re the team that’s best known.”

As for Tuesday’s tour finale? It’s not curtains on the band yet. Bon Jovi said the band plans to keep on rocking for as long as the fans are belting out all the songs, filling stadiums and buying the music.

“I don’t envision myself necessarily living out of a suitcase at 64 like (Mick) Jagger, but (the Rolling Stones) are the benchmark,” he said. “When they decide to call it a day, then the rest of us can look at our calendars and decide how to take it. As long as we’re having No. 1 albums and you can’t get a ticket to the show, why should I quit?”

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