This item first appeared in Chip Malafronte’s ‘Sunday Gravy’ column, which appears every Sunday in the New Haven Register and Hearst Connecticut Media.
There’s been no formal announcement and officials at Yale offer no comment. But, rest assured, artificial turf at the Yale Bowl is imminent. The upcoming season is expected to be the final one with natural grass.
We hear the amended plan now includes the installation of miles of heating coils beneath the turf, a state-of-the-art system that allows Yale to control surface temperature to keep snow and moisture from accumulating.
The Bowl’s grass surface is set below sea level, making it difficult to maintain. It’s typically a muddy mess by late fall, especially when it rains. Several professional stadiums in cold-weather regions, including Minnesota, Green Bay and New England, also use undersoil heating systems.
Yale and Brown are the only Ivy League schools still playing on grass.
Once the turf is installed Yale plans on working with the CIAC to play host to the high school football state championships. High school football was a major draw at the Bowl from the 1930s through 1957 — a record crowd of 40,504 watched Hillhouse and West Haven play on Thanksgiving Day in 1948.
The last high school game played at the Bowl was in 1984.
A new scoreboard with video capability is also being discussed to further bring the 104-year old facility into the modern age.
Permanent lights at the Bowl aren’t part of the current plan. Yale is content to continue with temporary lighting for night games, which it has used the past few seasons.