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Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank both managers.

Hinchliffe Stadium overlooks the Great Falls of Paterson, New Jersey, one of the largest waterfalls on the east coast in the United States. It was built by the citizens of Paterson as a public works project during a very difficult financial situation in the United States, 1932. It was named for the mayor at that time, Judge John Hinchliffe.

The stadium site sits directly adjacent to the Great Falls National Historical Park. The New York Black Yankees played there and the New York Cubans. These games featured baseball Hall of Famers such as Paterson's own hometown hero, Larry Doby, the first player to integrate the American League.

Other greats such as Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson also made appearances here. Besides baseball, the stadium hosted events in professional football, boxing, wrestling, soccer, even auto racing, throughout its long and storied history.

They also were the home of the Paterson Panthers, a professional football team, and the great concerts that went on there. Recently, it played host to all high school sports under the stewardship of the Paterson Public Schools.

Sadly, the stadium has sat in a state of disuse since 1997, when the school system could no longer afford to keep up with the maintenance. However, this legislation would not place the burden of restoration or maintenance on the National Park Service.

This bill would spur private donations as well as the State and local investments to make the necessary improvements at Hinchliffe Stadium. The stewardship of the National Park Service will simply provide certainty about Hinchliffe's future.

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about putting purple ropes around an edifice. We want this stadium to be functional again. I think, therefore, Hinchliffe Stadium provides a golden opportunity for the Park Service to meet its goal of reaching out to urban communities, minorities, and immigrant groups.

This legislation would vastly enhance the significance of the Great Falls National Park, which this body voted on a few years ago. Although the Great Falls Park's current historic assets focus on Paterson's role as the birthplace of American industry, Hinchliffe Stadium shows us the human side of blue collar workers who came to Paterson to work in mills through waves of immigration and the Great Migration. Their descendants are the Patersonians, New Jerseyans, and Americans of today, and new immigrants continue to seek the American Dream.

As it was originally introduced, the legislation establishing the Paterson Great Falls National Park included Hinchliffe Stadium within the park boundaries. However, the stadium's historic significance was found to be in need of further study. That study was completed last year, reaching a conclusion that the people of New Jersey have long known: Hinchliffe Stadium has played a vital role in our history. As a result, Hinchliffe Stadium was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The importance of this effort to the people of New Jersey is evidenced by the fact that the entire New Jersey delegation has joined together as original cosponsors in a bipartisan way.

We have the support of a broad group of stakeholders, from local community organizations to large national advocacy organizations. I will enter in the Record letters of support from the National Baseball Hall of Fame; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the National Parks Conservation Association; the New Jersey Community Development Corporation; the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson; Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium; former Paterson mayor and current chair of the Great Falls Advisory Commission, Pat Kramer; and the current property owner, the Paterson Board of Education.

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