September 23, 2003

Jon Bon Jovi Starting Arena Football Team

Rock star, and football fan, Jon Bon Jovi is now co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League expansion team.

"I'm a football fanatic. I love football, always have," the New Jersey native said Monday. "It's the only sport I really live and breathe."

His partner is real estate developer Craig A. Spencer, whose properties include the five-star Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, where Bon Jovi spoke about his lifelong love of football and his plans for the Soul.

The announcement was made Monday. The Soul will begin play next season in the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum.

Bon Jovi had to overcome skepticism among league executives when he first approached them earlier this year about owning an AFL franchise.

Arena League commissioner David Baker said he quickly impressed with his business acumen, work ethic and knowledge of the game.

"We're driving on our way to a concert and he's asking me about the emergency quarterback rule. Nobody ever asks me about the emergency quarterback rule," said Baker.

Bon Jovi, whose hits include "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "It's My Life," said he'll hold a private performance for season ticket-holders. But that's all the singing he's planning to do - at least for now.

"I'm not going to be the halftime entertainment," the 41-year-old rocker said. "I'm going to sit in the owners' box."

The Soul becomes the 18th team in the Arena Football League and the second expansion team announced this year, following the New Orleans VooDoo in May. A 19th team, in Austin, Texas, is also expected to enter the league next season.

Baker declined to put a price tag on the Soul.

Philadelphia has a glut of professional sports teams, but Bon Jovi and Spencer said they're not worried about putting fans in the seats.

"This is a very sports-minded town. You know what they think of their sports teams: They love them, they love to hate them. But they'll love you if you try, if you give everything you have, if you go above and beyond," Bon Jovi said.


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