Finalist • PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
“An inventive, fast-paced look at what have become our modern shrines in a sports-obsessed society.” —Tom Verducci
In this “addictive” (Publishers Weekly) romp, intrepid sportswriter Rafi Kohan finagles access to our most beloved fields to find out just what makes them tick: from old-timer Wrigley, creakily adjusting to the twenty-first century, to the oversized monstrosity of Jerry’s World in Dallas. Investigating harrowing logistics and deeply ingrained traditions, Kohan employs his infectious “wit and style” (Christian Science Monitor) to expose the realities of building and maintaining these commercial cathedrals of sports worship. “Highly compelling” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Arena is a must-read for superfans, shameless bandwagoners, athletes, groundskeepers, culture junkies, and anyone who’s ever headed off eagerly to the ballpark to catch a game.
About the Author
Rafi Kohan is a freelance writer and editor, and an amateur ivy groomer. Formerly, he served as deputy editor at the New York Observer and has written for GQ, Men’s Journal, Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, ESPN.com, and more. He lives in New York City and deeply misses the old Yankee Stadium.
Smart, readable, deeply reported and researched, engagingly personal, funny and often surprisingly poignant. — Jay Jennings
[The Arena] covers everything from how those fighter jet flyovers sync with the national anthem to an inside look at the disease that is rabid fandom (in the chapter "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross"). Think of it this way: for less than the price of admission to most any of these stadiums, Kohan will let you travel from Wrigley to Lambeau to the Superdome in the most American way possible. Without ever having to leave the comfort of your couch.
Fascinating….He comes across as the Studs Terkel of stadium life, demonstrating an easy camaraderie with his sources…It’s his sod-level reporting that animates the book, lending a distinctive blue-collar vibe of bantering co-workers who take pride in jobs well done—jobs like painting the logo on a playing field or combing over the bald spots in the ivy-covered outfield walls of Wrigley Field. — Will Blythe
The Arena is fun because of the author’s wit and style – a kind of gonzo/embedded journalism hybrid…But most importantly it’s fun because it is, metaphorically speaking, a circus mirror reflection of who we are as a nation 'psychologically, economically, politically, culturally, historically.'
The Arena is an inventive, fast-paced look at what have become our modern shrines in a sports-obsessed society. But it artfully illuminates us - including the often quirky people flocking to these shrines - even more than the structures.
— Tom Verducci, Best-Selling Author, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer
This is an irresistible tour de force that reveals how and why our monuments to games are hard-wired to fans’ most thrilling and heartbreaking memories. A fabulous book. — Don Van Natta Jr., ESPN, Pulitzer Prize winner, and New York Times best-selling author
Rafi Kohan’s terrific The Arena sees stadiums as a reflection of ourselves, in all of our glory, all our failings, and all our desires. It also made me want to go to a game, immediately.
— Will Leitch, author of Are We Winning? and God Save The Fan, senior writer Sports On Earth and founder of Deadspin
Kohan answers a central question: If every game is on TV, why do we still shell out hundreds to see them live? Hint: Even in this era of HDTV and disposable stadiums, we still need to be together. The Arena is a pioneering work of athletic anthropology—and just plain fun.
— John U. Bacon, New York Times best-selling author of Three and Out, Fourth and Long, and Endzone
An altogether new and riveting sports classic. A copy of Kohan’s brilliant, funny, illuminating book should be sealed in a vault beside every one of these places we go to yell ourselves hoarse, so that future archaeologists sifting through our ruins can understand who we were and why we gathered together. — Josh Wilker, author of Benchwarmer and Cardboard Gods
An addictive, detailed look at the lives of sports arenas . . . . Kohan’s curiosity and empathy are infectious as he demonstrates how human this corporate aspect of sports can be. He has created an immersive, informative work that will delight and enlighten a wide range of readers.
Highly compelling . . . . Part history and sociology, part ethnography, and part journalism—sometimes straight shoe-leather, sometimes participatory, and oftentimes a little bit gonzo—the book features many of the behind-the-scenes questions you have always had and a few that you never considered. . . . Kohan brings the modern sporting arena to life in this fine exploration of the ‘corners of American stadiums that aren't necessarily hidden but are almost assuredly unseen.'
Fascinating…comprehensive, accurate, and often quite funny.
A unique and readable perspective on the impact of U.S. sports stadia and arenas.