PATERSON — As construction trucks rumbled in the background, Paterson High School students taking an advanced engineering class got some real-life lessons on Wednesday about the challenges involved in rebuilding a national landmark.
Standing inside historic Hinchliffe Stadium, the students from Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology listened to the architect talk about efforts to restore the concession stands and ticket booth entrances to the way they were nine decades ago, when the ballpark was built.
But other parts of the rebuilt stadium will deviate from the past to comply with modern regulations, necessities and amenities, said the architect, Michael Hanrahan, a principal in the firm Clarke Caton Hintz.
For example, he said, the aisles in the grandstands and the concourse behind them will be wider to comply with fire codes. About 1% of the 7,800 seats will be handicapped-accessible, he added. And the scoreboard will have a video screen.
“The locker rooms aren’t going to be restored to what they looked like in the 1930s,” the architect said. “They’re going to be modern locker rooms for 21st-century sports.”
Construction on the stadium — which has been closed for more than 20 years — started last May and is scheduled to be finished by November of next year, the developers said. The $94 million project also includes a 315-space parking garage, a six-story, 75-unit apartment building and a restaurant with museum space that will interpret Hinchliffe’s legacy as one of a handful of ballparks still standing from the segregated Negro Leagues of the mid-20th century.
The frame of the apartment building already has risen above Hinchliffe’s walls, as has a mound of dirt created by digging required for the parking deck.
The Paterson school district will have exclusive rights to use the stadium about half the year, and during the rest of the time the developers plan to hold events at Hinchliffe including concerts and semi-pro sports.
Wednesday’s event bringing the Paterson engineering students to the site was organized by the Victor Cruz Foundation. The Paterson hometown hero, who played wide receiver for the Giants in the Super Bowl, accompanied the students on their lecture and tour.
Cruz told the teens he hopes to see them back at the stadium when Hinchliffe reopens, and he encouraged them to pursue their careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“I want you to call me and say, ‘I just built something in Clifton, or San Diego, or Los Angeles,’” Crus said.
Before going inside the stadium, the architect gathered with the students inside a construction trailer and went through a thick book filled with design drawings. Afterward, several students said they were surprised by the extent and depth of the drawings.
“You have to do a lot of planning,” said junior Mekhi Jones.
“Everything has to be specific,” added his classmate DeAndrea DeAza.