Rededication of Yale Bowl Marks Milestone for Athletics Tomorrow and the Bulldog’s Football Tradition

A festive Coxe Cage was the setting of the rededication ceremony for Yale Bowl, a national landmark that first opened in 1914.

A party of more than 600 alumni, parents, and friends gathered in Coxe Cage November 17, 2007, to celebrate a landmark for Yale football and the Campaign for Yale Athletics. Capping nearly two-and-one-half years of construction, the Saturday morning ceremony commemorated the top-to-bottom renovation of Yale Bowl, a national landmark now in its ninety-third season of gridiron action.

Yale President Richard C. Levin and Director of Athletics Thomas A. Beckett hosted the rededication event. In attendance were Charles B. Johnson ’54, Joel E. Smilow ’54, and other donors who supported the renovation, along with generations of coaches and athletes from Yale’s storied football program.

Harvard President Drew G. Faust was also welcomed to the dedication ceremony. The morning’s festivities were a prelude to The Game—Yale’s 124th showdown against Harvard—which ended as a 37-6 win for the Crimson.

Paying Tribute to Yale’s Athletes

Joel Smilow donned a football jersey emblazoned with the number 54 to address guests at the ceremony.Coxe Cage was transformed for the rededication event, with a gallery of ten-foot-high photographs chronicling Yale football and—to commemorate the Ivy League’s most famous rivalry—prints of Yale-Harvard program covers dating back to the 1920s. Thirty-foot images of the renovated Bowl spanned two walls, and two full-scale replicas of the Bowl’s portals flanked the main stage, along with a representation of the donors’ plaques. Guests were treated to brunch, and the dedication program featured remarks from Beckett, Levin, and Smilow.

Beckett thanked supporters of the Bowl and acknowledged special guests that included Carm Cozza, legendary coach of Yale football 1965–1996, and Jim DeAngelis ’35, the last surviving member the 1934 “Iron Man” team. He also thanked both Vincent Benic Architects and construction manager O&G Industries, Inc., for a successful renovation project.

Thanking Donors for a Rejuvenated Yale Bowl

In his official dedication speech, Levin observed that the Yale-Harvard rivalry is built on a shared commitment to both athletics and academics—goals that are supported by the Athletics Tomorrow campaign across the full range of Yale’s sports programs. He expressed particular gratitude to Charles Johnson, whose contribution was matched by the Class of 1954, for funding that accelerated the timetable of the Yale Bowl restoration, and he went on to recognize other top donors present in the audience, including Harry Day ’70, the Jensen family, Edward Toohey ’54, John Embersits ’58, and the Ehikian family.

Following his remarks, a grateful Levin presented Johnson and Smilow each with a Lenox china replica of a “Yale Bowl” first produced to commemorate the opening of the facility in 1914.

He then asked Smilow to speak as a representative of the Class of 1954, which had a special place at the ceremony as one of the chief donors to the renovation. A portion of the Class’ historic 50th reunion gift, which totaled more than $120 million, was directed toward the project, rebuilding seven portals and the playing surface within the Bowl, now named Class of 1954 Field.

Together, Levin, Beckett, Smilow, and Johnson cut a blue ribbon to mark the official rededication of Yale Bowl. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Yale Precision Marching Band treated guests to an energetic rendition of the Bulldog Fight Song.

Charles Johnson is chairman of the board of Franklin Resources, Inc., and chairman and director of over forty investment companies managed and advised by its subsidiaries. In addition to his support for Yale Bowl, his gifts to Yale have included Johnson Field, home to field hockey and woman’s lacrosse, and support for the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy.

Joel Smilow is former chair, CEO, and president of Playtex, Inc., and one of Yale’s most generous benefactors. Prominent in the alumni leadership, he helped orchestrate his Class’ record-breaking gift, and he recently announced a gift that will support the construction of the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale. He is also a staunch friend of Yale Athletics, having funded the Smilow Field Center, as well as four varsity head coach and two varsity associate head coach positions. He more recently donated to renovate the football offices and played a key role in the fundraising for the Yale Bowl.

(November 18, 2007) 

November 18, 2007