Author Rafi Kohan Guides Us Through "The Arena"

Aug 11, 2017

Rafi Kohan is the author of "The Arena"
Credit Doug Doyle for WBGO

Author Rafi Kohan spent a year traveling all over the U.S. to give readers a detailed look at the lives of sports arenas.  His new book The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport is published by Liveright.

Kohan talks to SportsJam host Doug Doyle about his fascination with fans and stadiums, as well as what he learned during his trips to places like Lambeau Field, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Beaver Stadium, AT&T Stadium, Prudential Center, Barclays Center and many more.

Kohan admitted in the SportsJam interview that he wouldn't mind going back in time and watching the "Ice Bowl" game at Lambeau Field and any game at old Yankee Stadium.

Author Rafi Kohan with the Kansas City Royals mascot
Credit Rafi Kohan for WBGO

Kohan ventured to the stadiums and tagged along with tailgaters, vendors, mascots, sideshow events and many others.  He enjoyed meeting all who were a part of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

"This felt like a great opportunity to explore some underappreciated elements of the stadiums."

Kohan, who was a high baseball star at Solomon Schechter in West Orange, is very much a fan at heart.

"The best way to watch a game, because I'm seen it from a lot of angles.   Not the owner's box, not the cheap seats...the best way to watch a game is with someone who cares about the game, with a fan, with someone who passionately cares about the outcome cause ultimately that's why we go and that's why we watch sports."

The freelance writer has written for GQ, Men's Journal, Wall Street journal, Town & Country and ESPN.com.   Kohan served as deputy editor at the New York Observer.

The New York City resident also talked about how these increasingly elaborate structures are funded and how they are maintained.

"All the evidence suggests that stadiums are not good economic drivers, especially not for a region at large.  There might be some targeted development that works, but in general, they're not good economic drivers, that's not an argument we should buy.  At the same time that doesn't mean there's no value to stadiums, when it comes to things like quality of life and a civic pride. And so, if we as communities are thinking about spending money on these facilities, we should be having honest conversations about them, not believing that they're going to make us rich, but maybe they will enrich us."

Click above to hear the entire SportsJam with Doug Doyle podcast featuring Rafi Kohan.