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Historic Hinchliffe Stadium Saved By House and Senate Votes

Tim LeCras

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 • 2:35pm

WASHINGTON DC – Paterson’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium will stand the test of time.

Acting on a bill proposed by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted on Tuesday to make the historic stadium that once housed multiple Negro League baseball teams a part of Great Falls National Historical Park, saving it from possible demolition.

"Today is a very special day for Hinchliffe Stadium as it moves one step closer to receiving the recognition it deserves," said Rep. Pascrell. "This historic stadium has the unique distinction of hosting transformational players like Paterson’s own Larry Doby who overcame great adversity in uniting America’s pastime. Hinchliffe played a vital part in the history of our state and our nation, and now is the time to ensure that this story has a place in our National Park System for generations to come.”

Sen. Robert Menendez is also proposing a similar bill to save Hinchliffe Stadium in the U.S. Senate. These votes are the latest steps to making the stadium useable once again.

Once housing several professional baseball teams, including the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans of the Negro League, Hinchliffe Stadium It was most recently utilized by the Paterson School District as a high school sports facility until 1997.

Pascrell and Menendez’s bill both come with the caveat that the National Park System does not have to purchase the land or the building. The current plan for the stadium is to raise money through private donations to make the land useable for sports and events once again.

Multiple advocacy groups have fought to keep Hinchliffe Stadium alive in recent years. Outside of Pascrell’s commitment to the ballpark, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has played a major role in raising awareness for the historical site. In 2010, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Hinchliffe as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

“As one of the last remaining stadiums associated with Negro League Baseball, Hinchliffe Stadium is a living monument that symbolizes the history of sports and the American dream for a community that was often overlooked,” David J. Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said. “We thank Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) for leading this charge and commend the House for taking a pivotal step forward in protecting this National Historic Landmark.”

Last April, with the support of Pascrell, Hinchliffe received a National Historic Landmark designation by unveiling the official plaque from the Department of Interior. Following the ceremony, hundreds of volunteers gathered at the historic stadium to paint its walls during a cleanup event sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the City of Paterson.

Led by Paterson’s own Larry Doby, 11 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played on the Hinchliffe grounds, including Leroy “Satchel” Paige. The stadium has hosted three professional football teams during its existence, as well as countless amounts of boxing matches and even many auto racing events.

The Paterson School Board, the current owner of the stadium, adopted a resolution in support of the bill.

The bill also has the support of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and former Paterson Mayor and current Chair of the Great Falls Advisory Commission, Pat Kramer.

The Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act has been cosponsored by 24 bipartisan cosponsors, including the entire New Jersey congressional delegation.

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