Facilities color sport fan experience

When people think of the Yale campus, they often think of the amazing Gothic architecture. What many do not know is that several of Yale’s athletic venues are just as storied as the libraries and residential colleges.

Whether you’re an athlete or a spectator, Yale’s athletic facilities make a big impact on your overall experience as a Yale fan.

Compare Yale to other Ivy League schools, and you’ll realize that Yale has some of the most venerable, historic venues in the Ancient Eight. With history, though, comes aging and a lack of modern amenities. But thanks to the Athletic Department’s commitment to maintaining and upgrading these facilities, wear and tear will never take too serious of a toll on Yale’s oldest athletics buildings.

The Yale Bowl, which can accommodate 64,269 spectators, has the largest capacity of any football stadium in the Ivy League. The first time you walk through one of the Bowl’s 30 portals and see the bright blue seats and gleaming green grass, you know you’re in for a great experience. Unfortunately, you’ll also discover decaying concrete — the result of years of neglect for the circa-1914 stadium.

Former football head coach and Hall of Famer-to-be Carm Cozza has led the Yale Bowl renovation campaign. Upon his retirement in 1996, Cozza was appointed special assistant to Athletics Director Tom Beckett, with the task of raising money for repairs.

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

Cozza began fundraising by contacting each and every athlete who played for him in his 32 years of coaching. As a result, work on the Bowl is expected to begin within the next year or two.

The John J. Lee Amphitheater in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium played host to a rejuvenated Yale basketball program last season, both for the men and women. As the men’s basketball team came closer and closer to an Ivy League title, more and more spectators were vying for a seat at the 3,100-seat Amphitheater.

After Yalies and New Haven residents alike packed the arena during the Penn-Princeton weekend, though, the fire marshal decided to re-count the seats, lowering the capacity to 2,800. Consequently, some fans were without a seat at the Harvard game on the final Friday of the regular season.

Again, the Athletics Department has expressed the desire to increase seating capacity by removing some of the bulky chair-back seats and installing more bleachers. While plans have not been finalized, the Athletics Department hopes that the increased capacity will be ready by the start of the 2002-03 season. In addition, the Amphitheater could play host to a new Yale tradition — Midnight Madness — to be potentially held on Oct. 12.

To witness Yale’s commitment to world-class facilities, venture out to the Gilder Boathouse in Derby to watch the crew teams.

Other new venues include the Johnson Field/DeWitt Family Field complex across the street from the Yale Bowl. Johnson Field is an artificial turf stadium that plays host to the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams, as well as an occasional football practice. DeWitt Field hosts Yale softball, and both sites are among the Ivy League’s finest in their respective sports.

Yale athletics can be entertaining and exciting to watch — and facilities that already are some of the Ivy League’s finest will only improve during your four years in the Elm City.

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