Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment announced that on November 2nd, they would raise a "permanent banner" to Bon Jovi. How did they earn the recognition of being hung next to Toronto legends, like Mats Sundin, Borje Salming, and John Bower? Why, they made MLSE a bunch of money!
Bon Jovi has sold more than 600,000 tickets in its 17 appearances at the ACC, more than any band in the arena’s history. (The Star)
As noted by twitter user DB590, the 600,000 tickets sold for 17 appearances would mean seating over 35,000 people per show - a difficult task for a building that only seats 19,800 for full house concerts. (SkinnyPhish kindly pulled his own wikipedia-based estimates, which puts the ACC numbers at under 200,000, and even total Toronto estimates at just over 400,000.)
Fuzzy numbers aside, there isn't really much else offered as to why Bon Jovi gets this honor - I guess all you have to do to get a banner at the ACC is show up. Granted, Bon Jovi did show up at the ACC often: on this tour, Toronto and Montreal were the only tour locations to give two shows, and only Toronto did that twice. If you're wondering who was responsible for helping them get that Toronto popularity? Why, it was the CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which represented Bon Jovi in the past - Tim Leiweke.
AEG’s concerts division promotes tours for pop stars like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Jon Bon Jovi. (Forbes)
He has orchestrated concert events for the likes of Bon Jovi, the Black Eyed Peas and Celine Dion. (LA Times)
It sure is nice that the former CEO of a promotions company can find the space to promote a former client in his new role. What's more promotional than a banner?
So that's the why; but more importantly, why care? It's just a banner. ACC staff hasn't even confirmed where the banner will hang (maybe it'll be "on a wall far from all the important banners"). But I hate the idea of a banner that so transparently feels like Tim Leiweke honoring Bon Jovi for Tim Leiweke and Bon Jovi.
I have no problem with the wallspace the ACC will be dedicating to Bon Jovi (and future "honored" acts), but hanging from the rafters seems like it should have a stricter standard than "put a lot of butts in seats." To earn a banner at the ACC used to mean a player had represented the city of Toronto, not just that they had traveled through it several times - Clark played 235 home games as a Toronto Maple Leaf - . These are names we, as a fanbase, help choose to honor and, at least in some capacity, identify with; Mats Sundin cried when the Leafs raised his banner - will Bon Jovi remember it in a week?
Like his peers, Mats represented the city, and his name represents a period of time and experiences for Leafs fans, both watching him at the ACC and with friends and family. Maybe I'm romanticizing the piece of cloth and a history lesson, but I don't want to see the ACC rafters descend into a tool for corporate back-patting.
But don't worry. Tim Leiweke knows what Leafs fans are really worried about:
"We’ve left plenty of room up there for Stanley Cup banners. This doesn’t take away from the Leafs," said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. (The Star)
Thanks. It was really the distribution of banners I was thinking of. Glad to see Leiweke's hard at work "changing the culture" of MLSE. Congratulations to the shamefully inevitable banner raising of Bon Jovi. It'll hang alongside the accomplishments of franchise players, reminding everyone that bumping MLSE's revenue is the highest honor.