With the Yale football season now officially over, many questions will be asked. Whether they be the about the future of the program, or the vision for the Ivy League, none are as pressing as those directed toward the inferior seating conditions that continue to exist at the Yale Bowl.
True, certain seating sections have received a facelift through the ongoing restoration program, but the majority of the Bowl’s interior remains an eyesore, not to mention unsafe. Those in denial argue, “So what, the yearly attendance is so poor (save for the every-other-year Harvard matchup) that it’s not a priority.” But let me ask you: Have you been to the Bowl lately?
Three-quarters of the stadium suffers from horrific paint-peeled wooden seats. The visual is comparable to the not-so-long-ago lead paint conditions exposed in homes and apartment buildings. To make matters worse, many of the seats are splintered so badly that dangerous, sharpened wooden shards — both still-attached and disengaged — are now common. This season, I personally counted 14 separate cases in which sections of wooden seats have become completely dislodged from the cement foundation. Back rests have also become loosened and sway when any pressure is put against them. The foundation also has many cracked and broken portions with numerous pieces of cement just waiting for an accident and lawsuit to occur. Although the majority of these seats are in areas that go mostly unused each season, they are still available to be sat in, and there are those who choose to do so because of the excellent sight lines that these seats offer. But most of the time, the seats are frequented by unattended children whose motives rarely have anything to do with paying attention to the contest at hand. Also, there is no clause on the printed game tickets, or signage anywhere, detailing that you are attending at your own risk — hence, the University remains responsible.
Here’s the bottom line: If nothing is to be done in the near future to renovate what I’ve detailed above, the University and game attendees would be better served by closing off access to the majority of the existing seating at the Bowl. Only the Harvard game attendees would be exposed to these inadequacies. Of course, should Yale and the rest of the Ivy League ever become interested in reversing the ongoing decline of their football legacy, they may wish to embark on efforts to expand their ranks to include major universities that have not sacrificed their academic integrity, yet still attract quality athletes and successfully compete at a high level. By doing so, attendance would grow, which in turn might finally require necessary improvements to the Bowl — which, by the way, is a National Historic Landmark.
Marc G. Mchugh