Equally significant during HOPE Week is garnering publicity for highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.
The recently reopened stadium is famous for being part of the Negro Leagues. For more than 65 years, Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey, was a hub for bringing the community together. Sitting atop Paterson’s Great Falls, the venue had served as a home for high school and professional football, soccer, boxing, racing, music and theater, and most importantly, Negro League Baseball. Professional ballplayers such as Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and Babe Ruth, along with boxers Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis, and entertainers Duke Ellington, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are among the illustrious names that once appeared at Hinchliffe since the stadium opened its doors in 1932.Despite a rich history that stretched over six decades, Hinchliffe closed in 1997, and over the subsequent years, the abandoned venue began to deteriorate. After years of neglect, it became an eyesore for residents, and many feared the stadium would be demolished.
Fears of demolition were curbed in 2013 when the stadium officially received landmark status. But Sayegh, along with Paterson native Baye Adofo-Wilson, wanted to do more. The duo shared a common goal to resurrect Hinchliffe Stadium.
That goal turned into a roughly $100 million project with Adofo-Wilson serving as developer. The effort included not only a full renovation to the park, but also the construction of an affordable housing apartment complex for individuals age 55-and-up, a parking garage, daycare center, restaurant and museum honoring the history of the Negro Leagues and Civil Rights.
The Yankees’ visit to Hinchliffe was planned to coincide with the 76th Anniversary of when Baseball Hall of Famer and Paterson native Larry Doby made his Major League debut, breaking the American League color barrier on July 5, 1947. It will be a fitting tribute, considering Doby’s playing days at Hinchliffe began when he was in high school, long before the start of his distinguished baseball career.
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