THE ICE BOWL AT THE YALE BOWL
Editor’s note: To use a time honored disclaimer, the characters and events in the following column are fictitious, and any resemblance or similarity to actual persons or places, is purely coincidental.
The following was overheard at Toad’s Place, the popular college nightclub in New Haven, shortly after Yale’s victory over Quinnipiac in the title game of the NCAA hockey tournaments. A Yale student (Andrew) and one from Quinnipiac (Jennifer) happened to bump into each other on the dance floor, and later they met at a table.
Contrary to the general impression of how Yale and Quinnipiac students interact, they managed to have a somewhat normal conversation. It went like this.
Andrew: So have you guys finally got over the big loss?
Jennifer: What loss? We beat you three out of four.
Andrew: Yes, but the first three were just exhibition games. The only one that mattered was at the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh.
Jennifer: Listen. I heard that Yale’s been playing hockey since 1896. Quinnipiac’s first team played 79 years later in 1975. Guaranteed it won’t take us as long as it took Yale, 117 years, to become national champions.
Andrew: I see you’re pretty quick with math, besides knowing something about Yale hockey history. But I’ll bet what you don’t know is that in the early days Yale had no rink and played outdoors, practically in what is now your backyard on Lake Whitney.
Jennifer: You mean the one that flows near our campus and has a waterfall? I see it from Whitney Avenue all the time. I think it’s a reservoir and we drink water from it ─ after it’s treated with chemicals of course. It’s probably geographically closer to Quinnipiac than Yale.
Andrew: I guess so. Except Quinnipiac didn’t even exist when Yale played on Lake Whitney. The only thing named Quinnipiac at that time was a river and a peaceful Indian tribe. Is that why your Bobcats used to be called Braves?
Andrew: I think so, too.
Jennifer: By the way, Andrew, speaking of where Yale once played, what about the Bowl?
Andrew: What about it? We manage to come close to filling it every other year for what we like to call The Game. The Yale Bowl is in the National Historic Landmark registry. It’s a very historical place.
Jennifer: Like Lake Whitney?
Andrew: Yes. Historical like Lake Whitney. But the difference is that the Bowl was not formed by nature. It was man made a hundred years ago. It was the first football stadium of its kind and, here’s more history, it was inspired by the Roman Coliseum. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the first game ever played there.
Jennifer: Did Yale win?
Andrew: Don’t be funny. But I will tell you this much. After the game Harvard was very happy. The next day a newspaper came out with “Yale supplied the Bowl but Harvard had the punch.”
Jennifer: Well I have an idea for another game, a hundred years later. Why doesn’t Quinnipiac play Yale in the Bowl next year to help you celebrate its anniversary, its centennial?
Andrew: Good idea except for one minor thing you are overlooking. The answer to why Quinnipiac can’t play Yale in the Bowl is a no-brainer. Quinnipiac doesn’t even have a football team.
Jennifer: I know. But don’t make assumptions. Who said anything about football?
Andrew: Well, if not football, what else could Yale and Quinnipiac do there, besides tailgate in the parking lots, which really doesn’t sound too bad?
Jennifer: Tailgating would be part of it. But there could be an even bigger attraction.
Andrew: I’m listening.
Jennifer: I hope so, because what I’m about to say will blow your mind. I think that Yale and Quinnipiac should play ─ be ready for this one ─ HOCKEY in that Bowl of yours.
Andrew: Wow! There has never been a hockey game in the Bowl.
Jennifer: Does that mean there can’t be?
Andrew: Well no. But why should there be?
Jennifer: Listen ─ outdoor hockey is getting more and more popular. A few years ago the National Hockey League played in Fenway Park. They’ve done it in Wrigley Field, in Buffalo, in Philadelphia and, I hate to mention the city, Pittsburgh.
The NFL Winter Classic is getting more and more popular, with capacity crowds wherever they play. Do you know that the New York Rangers will have a couple of games in Yankee Stadium next January? And they’ll be playing hockey, not baseball.
As for college hockey, Michigan and Michigan State have played in front of over 113,000 in Michigan Stadium. And last year your big rival, Harvard, played Union College in the Frozen Fenway competition in Boston. Even here in Connecticut, UConn and the American Hockey League played outdoor games at Rentschler Field a few years ago. Outdoor hockey is also very popular and growing in other countries.
And where has Yale been during all this? Lagging behind its tradition, using its sacred Yale Bowl only about six out of 365 days at year. Does that make sense?
A beautiful place like that with all those seats and it’s only open for business six days a year. Is that practical? What a waste. I thought Yale people, with all those economic professors on the faculty, had the smarts and knew how to realize the full potential of its facilities.
Come on Yale, join the rest of the world. You used to be a leader and a pioneer in sports, but now you’re behind the times. The Bowl doesn’t even have a lighting system, which most high school fields have now. But that doesn’t matter for a hockey game because it would be in the daytime.
Andrew: I hear you, even though the band here is getting awfully loud. You know, for the first time tonight I’m starting to agree with you. I can just picture it. Even people who aren’t hockey fans would want to see hockey in the Bowl, for the novelty of it and if for no other reason but to say they were there. They could tell their grandchildren that they were at the first hockey game ever played in the Yale Bowl. The ticket stubs and game programs would become collector’s items. Hockey the way it was meant to be. An outdoor game in the cold of winter. If it snows, all the better.
It would be a family affair. They could even invite kids and their parents to bring skates and do a few turns on the ice after the game.
Jennifer: It would definitely be a happening. It might even be a sellout. It certainly would do better at the gate than the so-called “crowds” at most of your football games. I know just about everybody on our campus would be there for this one.
Andrew: And ours too. The Harvard football game will be away in 2014, so this could also bring in a big alumni crowd.
Jennifer: With two local teams playing, and plenty of support from the ordinary hockey fans, it can’t miss. It would probably be on national television and also get great press coverage. Maybe Toad’s could put up a trophy, The Toad’s Cup.
Andrew: Hey, I have the perfect name for the game, Jennifer, THE ICE BOWL AT THE YALE BOWL. This is long overdue. You’ve come up with an idea whose time has come. You’re right on the ball.
Jennifer: Don’t you mean right on the puck?
Andrew: Exactly. Hockey in the Yale Bowl. The Ice Bowl at the Yale Bowl.
Jennifer: I love it. I’ll see you on the 50-yard line. I mean at center ice. But if it doesn’t work out, I suppose there’s always Lake Whitney.