Dedication Ceremony Celebrates Opening of Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza

The opening of the Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza marks the final phase of the Yale Bowl restoration project.

A new “front door” to the Yale Bowl was officially dedicated Saturday, November 21, the morning of the Yale-Harvard football game. The opening of the Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza marks the final phase of the $30 million restoration of the 95-year-old Yale Bowl, a national historic landmark. The dedication was attended by about 250 people.

Lead donors Jerome (Jerry) P. Kenney ’63 and Irving Jensen ’54 spoke at the dedication representing their respective families, along with Alexander “Sandy” Cutler ’73, whose gift to the Yale football program is recognized in the Cutler Team Room. Athletics director Thomas Beckett welcomed guests and Provost Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. made dedicatory remarks.

The Kenneys are the only four-brother football combination in Yale history. Jerome Kenney, Brian R. Kenney ’61, Robert D. Kenney ’67 and Richard L. Kenney ’71 all played for the Elis and together made a gift to name the Kenney Center. Robert’s son, Jeffrey S. Kenney ’93, also played football at Yale. Jensen Plaza—named to recognize the gifts of Irving Jensen, Colin Jensen ’57, Erik Jensen ’63, and Mark Jensen ’67—is a place for fans to gather before and after games.

The Kenney Center, which replaces the old halftime room, contains team meeting rooms, an alumni area with views to the field, and a rooftop terrace that provides a panoramic look at most of the Yale athletic facilities around the Bowl. “We were encouraged both by the University’s decision to restore and modernize the Yale Bowl, which has been such an integral part of Yale’s tradition, and also by the widespread support this initiative is receiving from other former players and alumni,” said Jerry Kenney. “My three brothers and I collectively played football for fourteen consecutive years for Yale, and we’ve had a next-generation player as well, so it has been an important part of our family’s Yale experience. Since Yale has contributed so much to our lives and careers, we’re pleased to be able to fund this center as part of the restoration project.”

“There is certainly no greater symbol of Yale athletics than the Yale Bowl. Whenever I walk into the Bowl—which is for every home game for which I am in town—I am overwhelmed by a sense of the history and tradition of Yale football. As I walk through the tunnel to my seat, I truly sense the presence of legendary players and coaches, and legions of dedicated fans,” Salovey said. “Nothing, then, could give me more pleasure than having some of Yale’s football legends demonstrate their belief in Yale athletics through their magnanimous gifts to remake this facility.”

 “We want to share memories with future Yale athletes and thought this would be a great way,” says Irving Jensen. “We had a great experience and education at Yale, which has made my life what it is today. Much of what we learned as athletes at the school has been used in our business. It is very important to make the experience a great one for current and future Yale athletes.”

(December 7, 2009)

December 7, 2009