Bon Jovi's Soul helps Philly keep the faith

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PHILADELPHIA --- 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.

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The Philadelphia Soul routed the Cleveland Gladiators 70-35 to advance to Arena Bowl XXII. Team owner Jon Bon Jovi has helped the Soul gain worldwide recognition while becoming a visible and active member in the Philadelphia community.  Associated Press
Associated Press
The Philadelphia Soul routed the Cleveland Gladiators 70-35 to advance to Arena Bowl XXII. Team owner Jon Bon Jovi has helped the Soul gain worldwide recognition while becoming a visible and active member in the Philadelphia community.

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 Tuesday.

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 as part of its Lost Highway Tour. The team planned to present Bon Jovi with the National Conference trophy.

"It's really rewarding," he said by phone. "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 past 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 to at least celebrate with their famous boss.

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."

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."


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