PATERSON, NJ – Efforts to continue the revitalization of the historic Hinchliffe Stadium got a boost on Monday with the announcement of a $500,000 federal grant from the African American Civil Rights Grant Program.
The funding, according to a joint statement by Congressman Bill Pascrell and Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, will be used to advance the second phase of facade rehabilitation. In 2013 the stadium was designated as a National Historic Landmark and in 2014 was added included as part of the Great Falls National Park.
Calling the stadium “an important part of Paterson’s and our nation’s past,” Pascrell referred to its status as one of the last Negro League facilities still in existence as part the reason it must be preserved. These dollars, he said, show that “adding Hinchliffe to the boundary of the Great Falls National Park was an significant step that is paying dividends.
Returning Hinchliffe Stadium to its former glory is seen by many community leaders as one of the lynchpins to the continued, successful, redevelopment of the Great Falls area. 6th Ward Councilman and mayoral candidate Andre Sayegh has frequently touted plans, including the “Halls to the Falls” initiative, to make the Great Falls a major tourist attraction, saying that it can be used as a gateway to bring visitors into the city that will then “stay and enjoy all that we have to offer,” including restaurants, museums, and art studios that he hopes will spring to life in coming years.
“If we build it they will come,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson while referring to a recent report by the National Park Service that visitor numbers enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2017. “More visitors means more money spent. That means more successful local businesses and more jobs for residents. This is a win for Paterson,” he said.
Speaking at a recent celebration of the Great Falls National Park’s sixth birthday, Darren Boch, the park’s superintendent, echoed Sayegh’s optimism about its continuing growth saying that through partnerships with major stakeholders and the community, it will continue to “function, operation, grow, flourish and inspire.”
Both Senators spoke to how Hinchliffe Stadium links the past to the future with Menendez calling it "a field of dreams for ballplayers who were judged not by their skill and talent, but by the color of their skin,” and saying that “while its very presence reminds us of how far we've come as a nation, rehabilitating Hinchliffe is integral to both preserving Paterson’s history and moving the city forward.
Recounting memories of enjoying Thanksgiving football games at Hinchliffe Mayor Jane Williams-Warren said that she was “excited” about the grant and “uplifted” by the continued progress towards its rehabilitation, as well as “all the support from Congressman Pascrell, our Senators, the city and other stakeholders.”
Applause for the grant announcement also came from outside of Paterson with Courtenay Mercer, Executive Director of Preservation New Jersey, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to historic preservation, saying that “Hinchliffe Stadium is an important part of African American history, of which there are too few sites preserved and interpreted in New Jersey.” The organization is, Mercer continued, “ecstatic to see this important landmark being restored so that all visitors to the Paterson Great Falls National Historic Landmark District can learn about our rich and diverse past.”