NJ Jackals will play ball in Paterson at historic Hinchliffe Stadium
PATERSON — The city has officially become the new home for a minor league baseball team as the New Jersey Jackals will play their 2023 season at historic Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, as announced on Wednesday.
The team's owner and operator, Al Durso, a Paterson native, joined Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and other local leaders in making the move official with a news conference streamed live on social media.
The roughly 7,000 seat stadium is owned by the Paterson Board of Education and has been undergoing an extension restoration, after sitting empty for roughly 25 years.
Durso said that before he was even elected mayor, Sayegh had met with him at the Jackal's now-former home field, Yogi Berra Stadium — and asked what it would take to bring the Jackals to Paterson.
"I'm here really because I believe in their vision and because I want to be part of the rebirth of the stadium," Durso said.
The last time there was a professional baseball game at Hinchliffe Stadium was in 1950, according to Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium co-founder, Brian LoPinto.
The Jackals are among 16 teams that play for the Frontier League, a partner of Major League Baseball.
They will kick off a 96-game season in May 2023 at Hinchliffe — which sits above Paterson's National Historic Great Falls and is surrounded by the city's national historic district.
Hinchliffe is also one of two remaining ballparks where the segregated Negro Leagues played in the mid-20th century.
The stadium restorations are part of a larger $95 million project that includes a parking garage, restaurant with museum and nearby residential complex.
"This is a wonderful day for Hinchliffe Stadium," LoPinto said in a response sent to New Jersey 101.5. "We are grateful to Mr. Al Dorso, and the New Jersey Jackals for believing in the Hinchliffe Stadium movement. Welcome to Hinchliffe Stadium. Play ball!"
Paterson Board of Education Commissioner Manny Martinez also spoke at Wednesday's event and talked about the learning opportunities that he believes the new partnership will provide.
"How do we get our youth engaged... and to learn about sports management about running a franchise," Martinez said.
“We’re thrilled to have the Jackals in Paterson and equally pleased to be working alongside Al Dorso, a visionary, change agent and proven businessman with the leadership, acumen and experience to bring additional growth, prosperity and entertainment to our local community,” Sayegh said in a written release.
“We are excited to announce Hinchliffe Stadium as the new home of the New Jersey Jackals. This is a big day in franchise history and we’re already counting down the days to the Opening Day of 2023. Paterson has already been a gracious host and we’re excited to work with them moving forward,” the team said in an official statement to New Jersey 101.5.
The mayor closed Wednesday's news conference by referencing a classic quote from the iconic baseball movie, "Field of Dreams."
"We're building it, and they're coming," Sayegh said.
Editor's note: An earlier version mispelled "Hinchliffe" Stadium in at least one sentence.