THE ARENA by Rafi  Kohan
Kirkus Star


Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport
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An inside look at the secular cathedrals where we hold our sporting masses—and celebrate with unrepentant excess.

In this highly compelling book, New York Observer contributing editor Kohan deeply explores the myriad facets of the places where our sports teams play their games. 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. What is it like to be a stadium mascot or the halftime entertainment? Or a groundskeeper—and where do they get that turf? How does ticket scalping work in the age of the internet? What happens to a stadium that falls out of use or that never really fulfills its promise to begin with? And how do they deal with all that food and beer? Kohan is an entertaining tour guide, and while his reporting is top-notch, he also takes a deep dive into the literature on stadiums from antiquity to the present. He loves sport but is no fan of stadium boondoggles. He respects the military but wonders about the justification for the increasing amount of jingoistic paeans to the military on game days. His travels took him to stadiums and arenas across the country, from sparkling new gems to old classics like the Big House in Ann Arbor or Wrigley Field in Chicago. The author embedded himself with grounds crews and supervisors, working folks and management, making the most of the impressive access he was granted at facilities across the country. Each chapter takes a kaleidoscopic look at its topic, with the author effectively merging ground-level and bird’s-eye views.

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.”

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63149-127-6
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Liveright/Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2017


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