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The Bowl Makes a Comeback

Fourteen years ago, this magazine posed a provocative question : “Should the Bowl be bulldozed?” In 1992, the football stadium, which had opened in 1914, was in sad shape. The Bowl had been modeled on an amphitheater in ancient Pompeii. Perhaps it was best to allow the facility, like the Roman Empire itself, to crumble into history.


“The Bowl didn’t look this good when it was built.”

Despite cosmetic surgery since that article appeared, the deterioration continued. But Charles Johnson '54 was not willing to give up. “It was a great thrill to be in the Bowl as a player,” says Johnson. To ensure that future Eli football players could share that excitement, Johnson pledged $5 million in June 2004 towards a fundraising effort led by former football coach Carm Cozza to fully restore the Bowl. Cozza had already garnered $8 million in pledges. When the Class of 1954 matched Johnson’s gift, the project could proceed in earnest.

The $21 million first phase was finished last month. “Fans will be amazed,” says Tom Beckett, director of athletics. “The Bowl didn’t look this good when it was built.”

Restoring the structure, a National Historic Landmark, was a massive undertaking. Much of the seating area was demolished and rebuilt with fresh concrete. There are 18 miles of new or repaired seats. All 30 portals were refurbished, and the entire exterior of the stadium was faithfully restored, using modern techniques and materials. In addition, a modern gutter system was installed to ensure proper drainage.

“This is an amazing facility, an architectural wonder,” says Barbara Chesler, senior associate athletics director. “There was never any real question of taking the Bowl down, and there wasn’t a preservationist in the country who would have allowed us to do it.”


“We still get 50 to 60 thousand people at The Game.”

Is it a prudent use of funds to spend more than $21 million (there are additional projects in the planning stages) on a facility that hosts only five to six games a year? More to the point, does the university, whose days as a national football powerhouse are long gone, really need a 60,000-plus seat arena?

Beckett points out the facility’s value to Yale and the wider community. “The Bowl connects people to the university in a way we want everybody to be proud of,” he says.

Chesler tackled the second question. “We still get 50 to 60 thousand people at The Game,” she says. “We wouldn’t want to turn anybody away.”  







Sports shorts

The football team stumbled, 43-17, in its opening game against the University of San Diego, but soon left the memory of that loss behind. The Bulldogs have won five straight and are currently undefeated in the Ivy League and tied for first.

Helen Resor '09, a member of Team USA’s bronze-winning Olympic women's hockey team, will again be representing her country in international competition. In November, Resor, who plays defense, skates in the Four Nations Cup in Canada, as Team USA competes against Canada, Finland, and Sweden. She then returns to Yale to skate with her cousins Nina '07 and Carry '09 and other teammates.

The men’s heavyweight crew finished in third place in its division at the Head of the Charles regatta on October 22. The bronze-medal finish, the crew’s best in recent years, came against 44 competitors. Yale outdistanced all of its Ivy rivals.

On October 24, Brian Tompkins celebrated a milestone: his 100th win as head coach of the men’s soccer team. The 1-0 victory over SUNY/Albany came in Tompkins’s 11th year at the helm; he is the fourth head coach in the history of the men’s soccer program at Yale to reach the 100-win level.

The Ivy League reached its own milestone this year. Its first formal game—a Brown-Columbia football matchup—took place a half-century ago this September. The League is celebrating its 50th anniversary www.ivy50.com.



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