It’s Brand New, But Renovated Yale Bowl Entrance Is All About History

A new entrance to the Yale Bowl will be officially dedicated on Saturday, Nov. 21, the morning of the Yale-Harvard football game at the Class of ‘54 Field.

The opening of the Kenney Center and Jensen Plaza mark the final phase of the $30 million restoration of the 95-year-old Yale Bowl, a national historic landmark.

Walking in from a tailgate on game day, fans will catch a glimpse of the three-story Kenney Center as they leave a parking lot. The Kenney Center replaced the old halftime room and rises up and attaches to the press box. As they get closer to the perimeter of the Bowl at the main entrance, fans step onto the granite stones that contain the names of every Yale football letter winner since 1872 as part of the Jensen Plaza.

“One of the most storied programs in the history of college football has added to its lore with the addition of the Kenney Center and the Jensen Plaza,” says Tom Williams, the Joel E. Smilow ‘54 Head Coach of Yale Football. “We look forward to adding to the history displayed at both venues.”

Athletic director Tom Beckett adds, “This facility and plaza is another example of the strong partnership between the University and our alumni that continues to provide a world-class experience for all affiliated with Yale Athletics.”

The Kenney Center contains three 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. The Kenneys are the only family to have five members play football at Yale and the only four-brother football combination in school history. Jerome (Jerry) P. ‘63, Brian R. ‘60, Robert D. ‘67 and Richard L. ‘71 all wore blue and white, while Robert’s son, Jeffrey S. ‘93 also played for the Elis.

Fourteen different historical listings are displayed in the Kenney Center under the following headings: Heisman Memorial Trophy Winners; National Football Foundation-College Hall of Fame Inductees; All-Americans; Rhodes Scholars; NCAA Silver Anniversary Award Winners; National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes; National Academic All-Americans; First-Team All-Ivy Selections; Asa A. Bushnell Cup Winners (Ivy League MVP); George “Bulger” Lowe Award Winners (Outstanding Player in New England); Ivy League Rookie of the Year Selections; Yale Football Captains; National Championship Teams; and Ivy League Championship Teams.

“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 14 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.”

The Jensen Plaza — named after Irving ‘54, Colin ‘57, Erik ‘63 and Mark Jensen ‘67 — serves as a place for fans to gather before and after games. Two of the Jensen brothers played for former Yale football head coach Jordan Olivar and earned Ivy League Championship rings. Colin Jensen, who had two letters, was part of the 1956 Bulldog squad that went 8-1, was undefeated in Ancient Eight play and cruised past Princeton and Harvard on the way to a title. Erik Jensen earned three football letters and was a member of Yale’s last perfect (9-0) team in 1960.

“We want to share memories with future Yale athletes and thought this would be a great way,” says Irving Jensen, who played on the Bulldog freshman squad. “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.”

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