Yale Athletics

Despite the completed installation of new synthetic turf and a Yale football home opener with Holy Cross looming on Sept. 21, construction continues at the Yale Bowl.

The 105-year-old stadium will soon feature a video board, Director of Athletics Vicky Chun confirmed with the News in an interview this week. The custom video display will offer the ability to broadcast in-game replays, announcements and graphics, all of which Yale Athletics hopes will improve the fan experience. While construction of the video screen will not be complete before the Elis welcome the Crusaders next Saturday, it is expected to be completed before Harvard visits New Haven for the 136th installation of The Game on Nov. 23.

“When you build anything around or on the Bowl, you want to preserve the original building, and we got all that done with this new video board,” Chun said. “We’re aiming for it to be set for Yale–Harvard. We’re pushing the gun … It’s something that I just think is part of the competitive arena now and especially for football.”

The addition of a video display marks another 21st century upgrade to the historic Bowl, which was the largest athletic stadium in the world when it opened to Yale fans for a Nov. 21, 1914 game against Harvard. In 2009, a $30 million renovation added Jensen Plaza and the Kenney Center, a building attached to the side of the Bowl with team rooms and a reception area. This summer, synthetic turf replaced the former grass surface, which many players said had significantly deteriorated in recent seasons.

Yale worked with both New Haven and West Haven on the project, Chun said, and acquiring the necessary approvals took longer than expected. As a result, work on the board will continue through the fall. Although the video board will not be functional for Yale’s home opener, a modified scoreboard will display the score and game clock in time for Team 147’s game with Holy Cross, Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella said. When completed, the original scoreboard exterior will remain with the video board built into it.

The project follows the construction of a video display on one end of Reese Stadium, which was completed in advance of the 2019 lacrosse season late last winter. Reese’s display sits on four beams, propped up prominently behind one of the goals. The Yale Bowl video display, which Chun described as “all the way up to the walls,” will sit within the original scoreboard above the seating in the north end zone.

Chun hinted at the addition of more video boards at Yale venues and confirmed plans for displays at Ingalls Rink and John J. Lee Amphitheater, but she declined to give details or an estimated timeline.

“I was part of the installation for the video board on the lacrosse [and] soccer field, football, and then hopefully I’ll have an announcement of another site as well,” Chun said. “Yes, there are plans [for Ingalls and JLA]. I would say it would be part of my vision and goal to have video capability one day.”

The installation of video displays fits into Chun’s larger goal of sharpening the Yale Athletics brand and raising the profile of Yale Athletics. For now, however, Chun and her team are focused on constructing the Bowl’s video board as efficiently as possible. The Bulldogs have practiced at the Bowl since Thursday, Aug. 23.

“We’re excited to see the new video board and are very appreciative of the work being done to the Bowl,” captain and wide receiver JP Shohfi ’20 said. “I think it will mostly be an enhanced experience for fans. To be able to see replays and have more interaction with the game is hopefully something that brings more investment in the team and more support. Overall, it’s a big benefit to have these updates this year and gets the team more excited to play at home.”

The Elis will host six football games at the Bowl this season.

William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu