Fans of the Yale football team will notice several changes on the field for the 2015 iteration of the Bulldogs — a new starting running back, the addition of transfer wide receiver Bo Hines ’18 and a bolstered defense under a refreshed coaching staff, to name a few. But one notable change that will be seen in the upcoming season will not be on the field, but just outside of its perimeter: stadium lights.
Due to a pair of scheduling decisions made during the offseason, the Elis will be under the lights in two historic contests this year. Yale’s game at Penn will be on a Friday night at 7 p.m., while the 132nd rendition of the Harvard-Yale game will require temporary lighting at the Yale Bowl because of a 2:30 p.m. starting time, two hours later than The Game’s usual kickoff.
The Friday night game at Franklin Field, slated for Oct. 23, will be Yale’s third ever game on a Friday, and its first in 18 years. But this year’s Harvard-Yale contest will be even more historic, as Nov. 21, 2015, will mark the first time ever that lights are used for a game at the Yale Bowl.
“I know that type of change, especially in a game under the lights, always brings a little bit more crowd energy, just because it’s such a different feel,” tight end Sebastian Little ’16 said. “That’s really what I’m excited for, getting people in the seats involved and having a lot of people at the games.”
The unusual time of the Harvard-Yale game stems from a scheduling request from NBC Sports Network, which will be televising the game, according to Steve Conn, associate director of athletics sports publicity.
The 101-year-old Yale Bowl, currently the only Ivy League football field without stadium lighting, will need a temporary lighting system installed for the contest. Conn said that when NBCSN was informed about this complication, the network offered to handle the lighting addition.
Yale’s matchup against Penn is one of seven Friday night games on the schedules of Ivy League teams this year. Five of those games, with representation from all Ivy teams and including Yale’s contest against the Quakers, will be broadcast on NBCSN’s “NBC Live Extra” streaming service.
“All of this is a result of the package put together by the Ivy League,” Conn said. “Some of the TV networks have made it known that moving games to Friday nights could be an attractive option for them.”
Conn verified Little’s point about increased student excitement for night games, adding that attendance by students has been “quite positive” in past Ivy League games played under the lights.
The 2015 season will also feature an unusual home to away game breakdown, as the Bulldogs will play just four of the 10 home games at the Yale Bowl. The Elis will play on the road for all three of their non-league games, at Colgate, Lehigh and Maine. The six away games balance the four away games that Yale played last season, during the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl.
Despite the unusual elements of the Elis’ upcoming schedule, Little noted that the team is not focused on these details early in the preseason.
“The way we think, we’re only focused on one game at a time, so we’re always just trying to get better tomorrow,” Little said. “We constantly harp on the process. Every single day we try to get a little bit better.”
Yale, ranked third in the Ivy League media preseason poll, will open its season at Colgate on Sept. 19. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.