By Dan Schlossberg
The last bastion of Negro Leagues baseball will return to life next spring as the new home of the Jersey Jackals.
Hinchliffe Stadium will have 10,000 seats, a parking garage, a museum, and many other amenities when a current $95 million facelift is finished.
It was a rusting relic, with weeds growing between the wooden seats, when restoration began last spring.
When completed, it is expected to be the glittering cornerstone of Paterson, the third-largest city in New Jersey. The stadium is located a short walk from the scenic Great Falls that once powered the city’s silk mills. Paterson was the nation’s first planned industrial settlement in 1792.
According to Jackals owner Al Dorso, a Paterson native, Hinchliffe will not only be home field for the Frontier League team but will also be utilized for concerts, kids camps, shows, holiday events and perhaps even an annual major-league game, such as the Field of Dreams game and Little League Classic.
Hall of Famer Larry Doby, who also grew up in Paterson, was among the stars who played there before they reached the major leagues.
The Jackals had played in Little Falls, where their Yogi Berra Stadium was adjacent to the Yogi Berra Museum near the campus of Montclair State University. But Hinchliffe is larger and more accessible, with good rail and bus connections plus proximity to I-80 and Routes 46, 20, and 21.
“We’re thrilled to have the Jackals in Paterson,” said Mayor Andre Savegh. “This development is another watershed moment – pun intended – with the Great Falls [so close] to the stadium, for the city. It will surely act as a catalyst for new expansion, entertainment, and jobs in the area.”
Dorso agreed. “I still know this town like the back of my hand and have many fine memories,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to give back and add to the rich history of this region.
“We have approached this effortwith a community-first mindset, starting with working with Mayor Savegh and other local officials and business leaders. We plan to create a true ecosystem of opportunity in the months and years ahead.”
Along with Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, Hinchliffe is one of two ballparks remaining from the Negro Leagues, which gradually ceased operating after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier with the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Jackals are one of 16 teams in the Frontier League, an independent circuit.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg covers baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and other outlets. A 40-time author and popular speaker, he can be reached via email@example.com.