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Yale Bowl – Wonderfully Historic, yet Literally Falling Apart

Posted by Sean Rowland on September 29, 2013

Yale Bowl Interior

On a sun splashed afternoon perfect for football, Stadium Visit #140 was a historic one. Built in 1914 and site of some amazing moments, the Yale Bowl would be my fifth Ivy League stadium. Last April, we visited New Haven and Yale for a baseball game across the street, so Saturday was just for football as the slightly over two hour drive went smoothly. A winding, yet well-directed path led my car to lot D, where plenty of quiet tailgates with old alums were going on in the grassy field. It was a nice, welcoming atmosphere and everyone I encountered on this trip was very pleasant. Walking to the stadium, I had to rub my eyes a couple times trying to figure out if this was really it. The bowl is built below ground, so aside from the press box, fans just see a low-surrounding wall and then some tall grass above. Very peculiar and unexpected, yet the design was revolutionary for the time and it is a marvel when you think that the giant bowl was essentially excavated. After walking around the outside pathway, through the long tunnel I went for that always awesome moment of first reaching the inside of a new stadium.

The place definitely has a wow factor and I spent a minute just gazing. It is quite an amazing sight and while there is nothing architecturally earth-shattering about a 62,000 seat literal bowl, the thought that it was the first of it’s kind and 99 years old has an impact. After taking it all in, my eyes focused a little more to the closer surroundings, where I realized that in it’s current state, this is not such an ideal stadium. Every one of the seats is a blue, wooden bleacher that looks every bit like they’ve been there a century. Most of these bleachers are crumbling as there are paint chips and broken wooden pieces everywhere and there are even broken seats and concrete stairs. It feels like the stadium seating is falling apart. Walking the aisles is a hazardous operation thanks to the potential giant splinters, while sitting in the seats comfortably is an impossible task, especially since my 6’2″ frame barely fit. The best a fan can hope for is to seek out a wooden bleacher seat that is less splintered than the others. While I greatly appreciate and admire the history of this famed bowl, the uncomforable-ness is hard to overlook.
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Yale Bowl Seating

The game was Yale’s home opener and there was a nice turnout over 10,000 that came out to root on the Elis. The opponent was Cornell and interestingly enough, I have seen the Big Red in four of the five Ivy League stadiums visited. Yale’s start was impressive as they took advantage of a long kickoff return and then zipped down the field in their quick offense to score the first touchdown. The game slowed down after that and at the half it was tied at 10. In the second half, Yale bubble-screened the Big Red to death and dominated by scoring 28 unanswered. Receiver Deon Randall had all four of the touchdowns. Cornell had a couple meaningless scores late and the game ended 38-23. Harvard also opened 2-0 and I hope the Ivy title is on the line at the end of the season when The Game is played at Yale in what is a packed house and great atmosphere. It’s on NBC Sports Network (Nov. 23) this year and is worth a look. I will be working on a detailed review of Yale Bowl this week and a new review at Stadium Journey will be up as well. Have a great week!

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