I interviewed a great author last weekend on my radio show ESPN Impact on 1050 AM.
His name is Rafi Kohan and he has written a book called The Arena. It was a very interesting interview and I think you would all love this book!
The football season has brought lots of changes with regard to fandom, especially around football. From the opening of a new stadium in Atlanta, the Chargers move to LA, the Athletics announcing a new stadium, the Golden Knights ready to face off in Las Vegas and the Raiders constantly in flux between the Bay Area and Sin City. While new facilities are important, what makes a franchise go are not gleaming suites, but the people and the quirks that make them special.
A Brooklyn resident and lifelong sports fan, Kohan looks at the numbers of building these mammoth shrines, but then takes us deep inside the minds and hearts of fandom, from the lifelong workers to the passionate fans, and shows us what really makes America as a sports-crazed culture so unique.
THE ARENA goes into how stadium owners and architects evolve with the demands of ticket holders—respecting their nostalgia while offering greater creature comforts and modern amenities and where to the money to build, maintain, and improve these cities within cities has come and gone.
He touches on:
- How tradition is maintained in Wrigley Field, where the vintage center-field scoreboard is still manually operated;
- How ticket scalpers in places like Cleveland’s Progressive Field, skirt law enforcement while eking out a living on the fringes and fighting increased competition from StubHub;
- How sod is farmed (in Alabama) and AstroTurf produced (in Georgia), and how unforgiving grounds keeping can be for the crews after a monster truck show;
- How security keeps the peace and controls crowds at some of the most infamous rowdy fan sections (like the Raider Nation’s Black Hole in Oakland);
- How mascots and halftime acts (like Amazing Sladek and Kansas City’s Sluggerrr) approach their jobs with the utmost professionalism;
- How concessions are partnering with celebrity chefs, and the elaborate beer rooms, food warehouses, and prep kitchens involved in servicing tens of thousands of spectators (and how the consumption of food now outpaces that of alcohol in the stands);
- How professional teams celebrate and exploit patriotism, while also being inclusive and progressive on social issues sensitive to the players and the fans.
All of that and more comes across in THE ARENA, a great read for both the casual and the die-hard sports fan. It can be found at your local bookseller or online at Amazon.