Bon Jovi show boosted new Civic Center arena
By Tom Weber
The Bon Jovi concert at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center March 6, 1987, was the talk of the town for weeks before it happened.
"I remember it as being the biggest deal in town," said Andy Krogstad, now managing director at Mayo Civic Center. Krogstad, a Rochester teenager at the time, skipped the concert because, he said, "It just wasn’t something I was that interested in. I wasn’t a big fan of Bon Jovi. I’m a bigger fan now."
Bon Jovi was the hottest band in the country in early 1987, with its "Slippery When Wet" album sitting at No. 1 on the charts. Mayo Civic Center’s new arena had opened just seven months earlier.
"We were under a lot of pressure to get a rock show in here," recalled Donna Drews, executive director at the civic center. In 1987, she was promotions director at the facility.
Bon Jovi was scheduled to play in Duluth on the night of March 6 but had no plans for a concert in Rochester.
Then came The Petition. A group of local fans turned in a petition to Mayo Civic Center, encouraging Bon Jovi to perform in Rochester.
"We sent copies of the petition to different promoters, and they ended up calling us back," Drews said. "I think that’s what got the promoter to give us the date."
It later turned out that most of the signatures on the petition were not authentic. But never mind, Bon Jovi picked Rochester instead of Duluth, and Rochester’s rock fans had their show. To top it off, Bon Jovi announced that the concert would be filmed for use in a new video.
"I remember all the hype," Drews said. "By the time of the concert, some of the kids were so exhausted from the excitement that they didn’t even watch the show. They just sat in the corridors."
The concert took place on an unseasonably warm night. The district high school girls basketball finals were held at the same time in the civic center’s auditorium. "We had over 12,000 people in here that night," Drews said.
That figure includes the 7,100 who squeezed into the arena to see and hear Bon Jovi. Security personnel searched everyone who entered, and Gold Cross paramedics reported treating a few dozen people for minor injuries and heat exhaustion.
"Looking back," Drews said, "based on what we know now, it was a very well-behaved crowd."
Still, she said, "It was a wild, wild night."