Yale Bowl may get major renovation

Yale’s Facilities Office has submitted a feasibility study to University President Richard Levin for a renovation of the Yale Bowl, which could start as early as next fall and cost approximately $25 million.

The study gave a range of options for the renovation of the 87-year-old decaying stadium, but the timing of the project still depends on the success of fund-raising efforts.

But Levin said that, although the University has priced options, it has made no definite commitment to the project.

“We have a lot of plans on the shelf,” Levin said. “It is one thing to take it from a plan to reality.”

The University last renovated the Bowl in 1993, when the playing field was reconstructed to include new irrigation and drainage systems, but the scope of this renovation is likely to be much larger. Although no formal design for this renovation exists, Director of Capital Athletic Projects John Merrill said the renovation will concentrate on the building’s existing structure.

The next step in the process is the appointment of an architect to draw up a specific design for the renovations, which will target the portal walls and entrances, as well as the splintered seating in the stadium, Merrill said.

“The question is ‘can we get a design in place and begin it this year?’” Merrill said. “We very much hope to.”

Merrill said the renovation will not expand the seating of the Bowl, which already can accommodate 64,269 people.

While Merrill said the University has set $25 million dollars as a target cost for the project, University Planner Pamela Delphenich said she would not know the actual cost of the project until the University obtains final drawings and contractor bids.

The design phase of the project probably will take approximately six months, Merrill said.

Delphenich said the current study provided proposals that would allow for the renovation to proceed without disrupting football season.

The timetable for starting renovations depends heavily on fund raising, but with a feasibility study completed, Delphenich said the University can now concentrate on the economic side of the project.

“The purpose of the feasibility study is to embark on fund raising, and the success of the fund raising will determine the schedule,” Delphenich said.

Provost Alison Richard, the University’s chief academic and financial officer, said Yale has always viewed the renovation as a necessity but was holding off until the project received gifts.

“You only have to go out to the Bowl to see there [are] some facility issues that need to be addressed,” Richard said. “As with all capital projects, there is fund raising that is associated with it.”

Athletics Director Tom Beckett has enlisted legendary former Yale football head coach Carmen Cozza to lead the effort to raise money for the Bowl.

“We’ve been trying to raise money through the lettermen of football,” Beckett said. “Coach Cozza has been involved since his retirement.”

The Yale Daily News reported in September that Cozza, who coached at Yale for 32 years, has raised over $2.6 million, and he has earmarked the funds to go toward the outside concrete structure of the Bowl, including the facade and the 30 portals. Cozza has approached all of his former players for donations and said that many of them have been responsive.

“When Tom [Beckett] approached me, I jumped at the opportunity,” Cozza told the News in September. “I saw it as a chance to restore this place to the sanctuary that it has always been to me.”

The Yale Bowl, which opened in 1914 and once was the premier venue for college football, has been in desperate need of a renovation for years. A $25 million proposal now being seriously considered by the University calls for a substantial overhaul of the facility.
Joseph Price
The Yale Bowl, which opened in 1914 and once was the premier venue for college football, has been in desperate need of a renovation for years. A $25 million proposal now being seriously considered by the University calls for a substantial overhaul of the facility.

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