Last week, the city of Paterson, together with RPM Development Group and BAW Development, as well as over 300 dignitaries, gathered to celebrate the official reopening of the historic Hinchliffe Stadium after 26 years.
The $103 million Hinchliffe Neighborhood Restoration Project included the revitalization of the 90-year-old former Negro League ballpark, and brings much and much-needed affordable senior housing to the area, as well as 315 spaces of parking and access to the 7,800-seat stadium for sporting activities, cultural events and concerts.
“This is a victory for our history. Hinchliffe Stadium tells the story of the struggle for social justice and American integration,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said. “The rebirth of the real Field of Dreams represents a proud moment for Paterson and the United States.”
Construction on the Hinchliffe Stadium Neighborhood Restoration Project officially began in the spring of 2021, spurring economic development benefits for the city through part-time and full-time job creation. The project includes the rehab and ground-up development of:
- The 90-year-old, 7,800-seat athletic facility;
- A six-story, 75-unit affordable senior housing building located at 1-27 Jasper St. — the property is USGBC LEED Platinum certified and features studio, one- and two-bedroom units;
- The 4,000-square-foot Charles J. Muth Museum of Hinchliffe Stadium, which showcases Hinchliffe Stadium’s history as a centerpiece in Negro League baseball, auto racing and high school football;
- A 3,800-square-foot food court;
- A 5,200-square-foot preschool;
- A 315-space parking garage at the intersection of Liberty and Maple streets.
“It’s a pleasure to see the culmination of our hard work finally realized. This project was a labor of love that would not have been possible without the diverse group of public-private partners who came together to breathe life back into this historic site,” Baye Adofo-Wilson, founder and CEO of BAW Development, said.
“As one of Paterson’s most ambitious large-scale developments in many years, I’m incredibly excited about the future of this project for the city and the many lives that will be positively impacted by it. This athletic facility once served as a thriving commercial corridor for the community before falling into disrepair decades ago.”
Historic Hinchliffe Stadium is one of the last remaining stadiums to have played host to a Negro League baseball game. It was formerly home to the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans at a time when segregation and intolerance prevented Black players from joining the main stage. The stadium was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2013, and was abandoned for more than two decades.
Hinchliffe has hosted numerous athletic, entertainment and cultural events. At least five future baseball Hall of Famers played there: Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and “Cool Papa” Bell. Legendary jazz composer and musician Duke Ellington played one of his final concerts there. Even Abbott and Costello played there (Lou Costello was a native of Paterson).
The facility maintains much of its historic design and character following its renovation, including an art deco exterior and a classical, amphitheater-style horseshoe-shaped interior. In addition to being home to independent minor league baseball club the New Jersey Jackals, the multipurpose stadium will host a variety of local high school and league-based sporting events, including baseball, football, soccer, track and lacrosse. The stadium will also be home field to Kennedy High School for several sports and will also serve the broader community by hosting concerts, festivals, graduations, sports camps and other semi-pro and professional sporting events.
“We were able to safely preserve the architecture, design and charm of the original stadium, including the perimeter walls that were erected more than 90 years ago,” Bryan Verhasselt of RPM Development Group, who will serve as general manager of the newly created Hinchliffe District, which includes both the stadium and the senior housing community, said. “The bones of the stadium are all original, and we went through a painstaking process to ensure the facility was brought up to code, including the addition of modern ADA accommodations. I am so proud of all we have accomplished in a short period of time to preserve this local landmark and provide the Paterson community with a venue and gathering place it deserves.”
Financing for the Hinchliffe Stadium Neighborhood Restoration Project was managed by development partner RPM Development Group. Funds were provided by a combination of sources, including a $60 million construction loan from Goldman Sachs and $10 million in New Market Tax Credit and Federal Historic Tax Credit equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.,, U.S. Bank’s tax equity and community development subsidiary. Financing also included $21 million of New Market Tax Credit allocation from four Community Development Entities: Community Loan Fund of New Jersey, Consortium America, RBC Community Development and USBCDE. The Passaic County Improvement Authority also issued a bond in support of the project, purchased by Goldman Sachs through its construction loan, which serves as a bridge loan for the New Jersey Economic Redevelopment and Growth credits.