$10 Million Gift for Yale Bowl Restoration Project

June 10, 2004

New Haven, CT - A pledge from Charles Johnson '54, matched by the Class of 1954, has added $10 million to the fund for the restoration of the Yale Bowl. The gift brings the total amount raised for the project to $18 million and could dramatically impact the timetable for completion. Joel E. Smilow '54 made the announcement at the Yale Golf Classic on June 10. In honor of the gift, the Yale Bowl field will be named "The Class of 1954 Field."

The project was originally slated to be completed in several phases, with Phase I beginning this summer with work on the exterior fence. The gift could reduce the number of phases needed, resulting in cost savings.

"It could be completed in one phase," Charlie Pagnam, Yale's vice president for development, told the New Haven Register. "We will study that and look at the possibility of raising some additional funds now. We also have to take a look at the original plan of the Bowl and see if that is the scope we want to stay within."

The overall project had been estimated at $27 million, including a "Bulldog Plaza" that will feature the names of every Yale football team member, a new scoreboard, an upgraded press box and corporate sky box section, the restoring of the Bowl walls and portal entrances, restoring the iron gates at the portals, implementing a drainage system to channel water away from the walls, work to the interior seating of the Bowl and more.

"This is remarkable and thrilling news," Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett told the Register. "We're there. The Yale Bowl will be restored to its original brilliance. Our hats are off to this extraordinary group of men in the class of 1954, and to the work that has been done by Carm Cozza and the men that have played for him. This is news that thrills this entire community."

Appropriately, the announcement came on the 74th birthday of former Yale head coach Carm Cozza, who has spearheaded the fundraising drive. Cozza was at the Golf Classic banquet when the announcement was made and was treated to a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" in celebration of the event.

The Yale Bowl opened November 21, 1914, for the Yale-Harvard game. Construction, which began in August of 1913, cost $750,000. An electrified scoreboard was added in 1958 and a new press box was erected in 1986. The day after the 1993 season came to an end, the playing surface got a face lift, which included new irrigation and drainage systems. The Bowl hosted the 1995 Special Olympic World Games and was also the site of two seasons of NFL action in addition to the hundreds of Yale games it has hosted.

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Image Gallery:


(left to right) Class of '54 - Bindy Banker, Harris Ashton, Tom Blumenthal, Charlie Watson, Sam Yonce, Chris Forster, Joe Fortunato, Joel Smilow, Leigh Quinn


Joel E. Smilow '54 announces the Yale Bowl gift


The Class of 1954


Athletic Director Tom Beckett acknowledges the Class of 1954

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