Historic Midget Venue To Be Refurbished
PATERSON, N.J. — Municipal officials and school administrators here are finishing plans to rehabilitate Hinchliffe Stadium since city voters here overwhelmingly approved a $15 million allocation toward the historic midget and stock-car venue Nov. 3.
Patersonians voted, 3,433 to 891, for a non-binding referendum whereby the city will pay for Hinchliffe’s revamping with 15- to 20-year bonds, $13.8 million of which will go to the 77-year-old stadium’s rebuilding for future sports, recreation and entertainment use. Some stadium space will go toward a Paterson Public School district-run sports management academy.
The remaining $1.2 million will be split between the Paterson Armory and nearby Bauerle Field — the latter a gridiron used for high school football games.
Hinchliffe Stadium, a 9,200-seat arena on The Great Falls’s north bank, opened for scholastic and professional sports Sept. 17, 1932. Motorcycles first rode a one-quarter-mile cinder oval in 1934-35, but the school district allowed paving for ARDC midgets and stock cars in 1939-42 and 1945-51.
The stadium, named for prime backer Mayor John V. Hinch-liffe, is one of four surviving venues of baseball’s Negro leagues. The New York Black Yankees called Hinchliffe home for 14 years in the 1930-40s as well as the New York Cubans. It was where native son Larry Doby, who broke the Major League Baseball American League color barrier in 1948, successfully tried out for the Newark Eagles in 1942.
The stadium fell into major disrepair the last 13 years. The Paterson Fire Department responded to 33 arson calls there, mainly fires started by vagrants, last summer into September. The stadium was closed to the public from 1997 until local racers started an annual Hinchliffe Reunion in September 2008.