News Segment


February 9, 2004

PHILADELPHIA – Jon Bon Jovi packed the arena, but the big draw wasn’t his live music. The singer-songwriter received a mix of cheers and teen-idol screams when his picture was shown on the videoboard before the New Orleans VooDoo beat the Philadelphia Soul 42-34 on Sunday in the first Arena Football League game for both expansion franchises.

Even with the loss, which ended when the Soul’s desperation pass fell short, the Bon Jovi-co-owned team has already been a runaway success off the field.

The pregame scene resembled something you’d usually need a backstage pass to see. Photographers filled the field as Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, who owns a 2-percent stake in the team, walked around.

Not all the 17,484 fans in the arena came just for the football, which explains making a veteran rock star the face of the Soul.

“I like football, but I’m a huge Bon Jovi fan. He’s the man,” said Michelle Toughill, 34, of Merchantville, N.J., who said she saw Bon Jovi in concert about 15 times and is a member of his fan club. “But I’m trying to develop an interest in Arena Football. I’d come again.”

But there are limits to the adoration, even for rock stars. Less than an hour before kickoff, all the VIPs were kicked off the field to make room for the players.

“C’mon, we own the field,” a smiling Sambora said.

Courtesy of Associated Press