Diamond extra: Montclair State, NJIT to rebuild Yoga Berra Stadium, share facility

Schools will work together on $5.3M project that should serve as example of higher ed shared services

A new, state-of-the-art artificial turf playing surface, dugout upgrades, a new outfield wall — even new bullpens and batting cages.

Yogi Berra Stadium on the campus of Montclair State University is getting a much-needed upgrade — it’s also getting a second team.

In what is a solid example of shared services between two universities, Montclair State and New Jersey Institute of Technology are teaming up on the $5.3 million project that each team will use, starting next spring.

It makes sense for the players — and the schools — Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell said.

“The future of higher education is collaboration, not competition,” he said. “We must create new partnerships that allow for the sharing of resources between institutions.”

That can be in the classroom — as Montclair State recently did with Bloomfield College — or on the playing field. Anything that will add to the student experience, Koppell said.

“We are proud to embark on this initiative with NJIT to not only revitalize one of the crown jewels of New Jersey baseball, but to provide what we hope can be a new model for how colleges and universities can work together to create a better future for students,” he said.

NJIT President Teik Lim agreed.

“This agreement is an outstanding example of institutions working together and sharing resources to address a need and develop a mutually beneficial partnership that serves our students,” he said. “This is exactly the type of collaboration that we would like to see more of between universities.”

The upgrades also will help supporters of the team, as they include a new storage building, improved VIP and press boxes and upgrades to both locker rooms. Future renovations could also include upgrades to additional space within the facility to create supplemental locker rooms.

As part of the original construction, the stadium includes seating for 3,100, with room for an additional 4,000 lawn seats.

The enhancements will position the facility as a location capable of hosting conference and NCAA baseball tournaments as well as other high-profile events, making it a year-round facility that will serve the baseball teams, all students and the community at large.

More than that, it will restore the shine of Yogi Berra Stadium, which opened in 1998, and also serves as the home of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center.

The stadium formerly was home to the New Jersey Jackals, an independent professional baseball team, from 1998-2022. Now, it will serve two schools that have had some success on the diamond over the years.

The NJIT baseball program plays in the NCAA Division I America East Conference and earned the America East’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2021, winning NJIT’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game. NJIT has qualified for the America East Conference Tournament in all three seasons as a member of the league.

Montclair State, an NCAA Division III program, has played in the NCAA Tournament 15 times, winning the national title three times (in 1987, 1993 and 2000). The school also has produced 37 All-Americans.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our student-athletes and students in general,” Montclair Athletic Director Rob Chesney said. “We are looking forward to our partnership with NJIT and for our teams to play in one of the premiere collegiate baseball stadiums. I appreciate President Koppell and President Lim’s leadership and all the hard work so many put into making this happen.”

NJIT Athletic Director Lenny Kaplan agreed.

“Since the closure and demolition of Riverfront Stadium, we have been looking for a permanent home field for our baseball team,” he said. “Yogi Berra Stadium is the perfect venue for our student-athletes to call home for years to come. I want to thank President Koppel and the entire Montclair administration for being open to the idea of a true partnership between our universities. The end result will be one of the best baseball facilities in the region.”