Just what the Saskatchewan Roughriders needed: Jon Bon Jovi as a pitchman.
Playing before 35,000 fans inside the CFL team's home stadium on Wednesday, the American rocker donned a Roughriders hat for his band's final bow, made a reference to being "in Rider country" and, during back-to-back versions of a new tune called This is Our House, told the community-owned franchise's proprietors: "If the Riders want to use this as their new theme song, it's okay with me."
The Roughriders already sell more merchandise - $7-million last year - than the other seven CFL franchises combined, so they aren't going to miss a marketing opportunity. They plan to blast This is Our House from the loudspeakers before Saturday's game at Mosaic Stadium against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
"We are going to use the song," Roughriders vice-president of marketing and sales Steve Mazurak said Thursday. "We use different forms of music for a highlight package and we'll for certain use it for this game. We're getting it all pieced together.
"Watch for it just before introductions. It's a crescendo! It will be pre-kickoff."
The Bon Jovi concert was staged on a beautiful summer evening. After Kid Rock served as the warm-up act, Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco presented the band with Roughriders jerseys backstage while the office lights inside city hall (visible behind the stage) were strategically illuminated to spell "BON JOVI."
Several Roughriders players were in attendance to watch the lead singer with the mega-watt smile who used to co-own an Arena Football League franchise and his five bandmates play 23 songs, including It's My Life and an extended version of Bad Medicine.
"I went to the concert," Roughriders head coach Ken Miller said. "There were 35,000 people there singing the words … and me."
Bon Jovi told the audience his band was recording a music video for This is Our House, so it had to be played twice.
Before ending the encore with his most famous hit, Livin' on a Prayer, he thanked the crowd profusely for its patience. The new song - featuring lyrics such as "Are we gonna raise the roof? / Oh, yeah! / Are we gonna touch the sky? / Hell, yeah! - is expected to be published this winter.
"[Bon Jovi]gave us the rights," Mazurak said. "All the stadiums that hosted his tour get to use that song.
"Good on him. He's a smart businessman. This is a stadium song, like some of the stadium songs that have been around for decades, like [Queen's] We are the Champions. Some songs are imprinted in the hearts and minds of the sporting world.
"If you get This is Our House, it speaks to what sports and home-field advantage are all about."
Special to The Globe and Mail
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