Artifacts of Yale’s historic football program fill the white-walled and blue-floored tent. The 1937 Heisman trophy, a 1908 game jersey, the game ball from Yale’s 800th win and educational displays on the construction of the Yale Bowl encircle display cases that hold game posters dating back to the 1920s. This is the Webster Bank Yale 100 Tent celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl and the 142nd year of the Yale football program.
Yesterday, Sept. 18, at 2:30 p.m., Yale Athletics and Webster Bank unveiled the Yale 100 Tent outside of the Yale Bowl, which aims to educate Yale fans and celebrate the Yale Bowl’s remarkable journey through the years. Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett, head football coach Tony Reno, previous Yale Football players and Regional President of Webster Bank Jeff Klaus all spoke at the opening of the tent and the history of the Yale Bowl. The tent will be open on game days at the Yale Bowl.
“When I first arrived 21 years ago there was concern that the Yale Bowl might not survive,” Beckett said. “There was a group lobbying to tear it down because it was in a state of disrepair. Thankfully, due to a substantial gift from the Class of 1954 and many family and alumni, Yale was able to restore it.”
The nostalgia for what was the largest enclosed stadium since the Roman Coliseum at the time of its construction spilled over into pride and the recognition of tradition.
Reno and Bob Blanchard ’61, a former player and member of the 1960 undefeated Bulldogs football team, emphasized the importance of tradition in Yale football in each of their statements at the formal opening of the 100 Tent.
“We are team 142,” Reno said. “To me, that means a tradition and history of the 141 teams before us. These traditions that we want to build upon have happened for 100 years in the Yale Bowl. When we bring a recruit to the field for the fist time, the jaw drops and the cameras come out.”
Blanchard reminisced about his childhood, growing up in Hamden, Conn. and about his father taking him to many Yale football games as a child. He said that as a kid he dreamed of playing in the Yale Bowl, and said how lucky he was to have Yale and the Bowl provide him with that dream.
Tradition motivated the Bowl ceremony, but the Elis also broke tradition and ventured into new territory by partnering with an outside institution to have a sponsor branded venue.
The Yale 100 Tent, sponsored by Webster Bank, marks the first time Yale Athletics has been involved in a corporate sponsorship of a venue. Last year, the Ivy League partnered with J.P. Crickets leisure footwear company; but Yale Athletics has never before partnered with a company to sponsor a season-long event such as a the Yale Bowl 100 tent.
Previous athletes, members of the Yale Athletics departments and their families said they were pleased with the celebration of the Bowl and were thankful for the partnership with Webster Bank, and Klaus said Webster Bank felt the same way about being brought into the Yale community.
“Webster Bank is thrilled to partner with Yale — an internationally renowned university,” Klaus said.
After the speakers were finished, the ceremony concluded with the room singing “Bulldog, Bulldog” and Blanchard cutting the 100th anniversary cake.
The Bulldogs will kick off their 142nd football season at home against Lehigh this Saturday, Sept. 20