New Life For A Grand Old
The Herald News
Eileen Markey, Staff
October 16, 2002
Eastside versus Kennedy High School football games could be back at Hinchliffe Stadium in a few
The mayor and the
state-appointed schools superintendent Monday unveiled a plan to renovate the historic,
9,500-seat stadium and build a sports academy on its grounds.
which could cost between $22 million and $34 million, calls for the 70-year-old stadium to be
turned into a sports high school, with classrooms, a football, soccer and baseball field,
swimming pool and possibly an ice rink.
“We think this
is a doable project,” said Schools Superintendent Edwin Duroy. “When I came here five years
ago, one of the first things people asked me was what was I going to do with Hinchliffe
Stadium? Now we have an answer.”
Duroy said he
hopes the stadium will be renovated and the school opened in the next four years. The stadium
has been in disuse and disrepair since it last played host to school sports in 1996.
“Joey” Torres praised the plan, calling it an essential part of revitalizing the Great
Falls National Historic Landmark District. “What
we’re looking to do is not only build a school facility, but build a school facility that has
great use for the community,” he said. Torres said that, as he lobbies to get the Great Falls
district designated as a national park, he will push to have the rebuilt stadium included.
The city may also apply for grants on behalf of the stadium, but by and large will avoid
spending city money on the project, he said. The school district will pay for construction of
the school with $8 million to $10 million in capital improvement funds already approved by the
state, Duroy said.
It will likely
bond to pay for the extensive renovations and improvements to the rest of the stadium, he said.
Torres referred to
$400 million in state Department of Education funds reserved for education projects that spur
economic development as another possible funding source.
renovations include a new track and field, a cafeteria with views of Manhattan and the Great
Falls that could be used as a banquet hall and making the stadium handicapped accessible. The
main feature of the plan is a classroom building on the Maple Street corner of the stadium that
would house the Sports Business Academy, a small high school dedicated to preparing students
for careers in the sports industry. The first 30
Sports Business Academy students attend classes at John F.
Kennedy High School. The Hinchliffe plan calls for a 19,724-square-foot school for 175
students. Board of Education commissioners, city councilmen and the state Assembly members
present at the meeting were excited about the project.
encouraged to see this new step, and on behalf of myself and Assemblyman [Alfred] Steele, we
will do everything in our power to try to see where additional funding may be,” said
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, D-Paterson, who shared childhood memories of competing in the
stadium. Councilman-at-large Kenneth Morris said
he was happy there was a plan for the stadium.
“I am extremely
excited about what is happening here. Finally the right hand knows what the left hand is
doing,” he said, referring to the cooperation between city hall and the school district,
which owns the stadium. The art deco stadium was
once home to the New York Black Yankees, a Negro League team. Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Doby
tried out for the Newark Eagles baseball team at the stadium in 1942, said Flavia Alaya, a
member of the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, a preservationist group.
In 1946, the Paterson Panthers, a professional football team, played the Pittsburgh
Steelers at Hinchliffe, which later became a major boxing and car-racing arena. Before any work
begins, the school district needs to secure funding, hire an architectural and engineering firm
and win planning board approval.
Board of Education
Commissioner Kemper McDowell applauded the proposal as a positive step for the city. “Growing
up, one of the highlights of the year was the Thanksgiving Day game at Hinchliffe Stadium.
I’m happy if the young people of today will have that same opportunity.” There will be a
public forum to discuss the plans tonight at 6:30 at John F. Kennedy