Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) announced that the House Committee on Natural Resources advanced the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act (H.R. 2430), legislation Rep. Pascrell introduced that would make Paterson's Hinchliffe Stadium a part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. Last month, Rep. Pascrell testified at the hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation in support of the legislation.
"I'm thrilled to see Hinchliffe move one step closer to receiving this distinct honor," said Rep. Pascrell. "This historic stadium symbolizes the strength and courage of the many players that graced its field, including Larry Doby, as they overcame great adversity in pursuit of a more perfect union. It was my belief from the beginning that Hinchliffe should have been included within the National Park, and we are now one step closer to granting this historic stadium the recognition it deserves."
The Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act (H.R. 2430) passed by unanimous consent out of the House Committee on Natural Resources today, with an amendment that would prevent the National Park Service (NPS) from being required to purchase the property. This allows the Paterson Board of Education to maintain ownership of the building. The amendment also allows NPS to accept a preservation easement that would provide legal means to enforce future preservation of the stadium.
"Hinchliffe Stadium is an iconic and historic landmark that deserves to be protected for future generations," said Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR). "I applaud my good friend Bill Pascrell for his years of work to protect this important site and was proud to cast a vote in favor of his legislation today in Committee."
Next Wednesday, Rep. Pascrell will participate in a ceremony commemorating Hinchliffe's designation as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by unveiling the official plaque from the Department of Interior. Following the ceremony, hundreds of volunteers will gather 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.
In 2009, Rep. Pascrell introduced the "Great Falls National Historical Park Act," which was signed into law by the President as a part of the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009." The measure designated the Great Falls in Paterson as a National Historical Park and commissioned a study to assess Hinchliffe's potential to be named a National Historic Landmark. Last year the U.S. Department of Interior completed the study, and designated Hinchliffe as a National Historic Landmark.
In 2010, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Hinchliffe as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Eleven current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played on Hinchliffe's grounds, including Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, William Julius "Judy" Johnson, Oscar Charleston, and Leroy "Satchel" Paige. In addition to hosting Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe Stadium was also home to three professional football teams, many auto racing events, and professional boxing. Located within Paterson's National Landmark Historic District, the stadium is directly above the Great Falls National Historical Park.
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. Senator Menendez has introduced a companion version of the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act in the Senate as S. 1189.