The National Park Service has awarded a $500,000 grant through the African American Civil Rights Grant Program to the city for the renovation of Hinchliffe Stadium, announced Rep. Bill Pascrell jointly with senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker on Monday evening.
Funds will be used to advance the second phase of façade rehabilitation at the historic Hinchliffe Stadium.
“As one of the last Negro League facilities still in existence, Hinchliffe Stadium is an important part of Paterson’s and our nation’s past. This federal investment can help further rehabilitate the stadium to its former glory,” Pascrell said.
The long-awaited restoration of Hinchliffe Stadium began in August 2017. Phase one of the rehabilitation work worth $1.5 million was kicked off with fanfare. It is the “most significant” repair work at the stadium in 20 years. Hinchliffe Stadium closed in 1997.
“I am excited about receiving $500,000 to continue the renovations at the Historic Hinchliffe Stadium which many of us have enjoyed football games on Thanksgiving Day,” mayor Jane Williams-Warren said. “I am uplifted by the continued progress to revitalize Hinchliffe Stadium and all the support from Congressman Pascrell, our Senators, the city and other stakeholders.”
Hinchliffe Stadium opened in 1932. It is one of the few remaining stadiums where the legendary Negro League held baseball games. Baseball greats such as Larry Doby, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, and Oscar Charleson played at the stadium. The stadium was made part of the Great Falls National Historical Park by the U.S. Congress in December 2014.
“Hinchliffe Stadium was a field of dreams for ballplayers who were judged not by their skill and talent, but by the color of their skin,” Menendez said. “While its very presence reminds us of how far we’ve come as a nation, rehabilitating Hinchliffe is integral to both preserving the Paterson’s history and moving the city forward.”
“As we reflect on the many challenges our country continues to face, we must also remember just how far we have come by relentlessly defending and advancing the American dream of liberty and justice for all,” Booker said. “We all stand on the shoulders of those who fought courageously to elevate the moral conscience of our nation, and this federal investment takes an important step toward honoring, protecting, and advancing their legacy along with recognizing New Jersey’s vital contribution to this journey.”
Pascrell, Menendez, and late senator Frank Lautenberg passed legislation in the U.S. Congress in 2013 to designate the stadium a National Historic Landmark. In 2014, Pascrell, Menendez, and Booker passed legislation to include the stadium within the boundary of the Great Falls National Historical Park.
“Adding Hinchliffe to the boundary of the Great Falls National Park was an significant step that is paying dividends,” Pascrell said.
Funds for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program were appropriated through the Historic Preservation Fund in 2016. The grant program uses revenue from oil lease on Outer Continental Shelf to provide assistance to a range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. For the second year of this grant program, the U.S. Congress increased funding from $8 to $13 million in 2017.