On Sept. 27, Montclair State University Red Hawks and New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders Baseball came together to announce Yogi Berra Stadium as their shared home.
The stadium, currently under renovation, was previously housed by both Montclair State Red Hawks Baseball and Major League Baseball Frontier League team the New Jersey Jackals. As the Jackals moved to Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey in May, a spot opened.
Now the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders, after skipping through various stadiums, will call Yogi Berra Stadium home.
Kate Matthews-Bray, New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Director of Alumni, shares how the team, formally playing at Kean University, now has a place to stay.
“It’s great that [the New Jersey Institute of Technology] has a home,” Matthews-Bray said. “Any time we can partner with another state institution that’s a plus. [There are] some restrictions in Newark for sure and some red tape, so typically [the New Jersey Institute of Technology was] renting from Kean [University] recently which was difficult but now I think this partnership just makes it easier for our student-athletes and commute-wise it doesn’t get much better than this.
At the podium of the press conference, Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell explained his thoughts on the partnership.
“I would say that Yogi [Berra] would be proud that we’re gathering today literally in the shadow of his museum and learning center, which celebrates not only his baseball legacy but his legacy as a leader,” Koppell said. “This collaboration really exemplifies what’s possible when you work together and as a result of this collaboration we’re gonna have a state-of-the-art home for two [National Collegiate Athletic Association] baseball programs.”
In April, bids were proposed for the renovation of Montclair State’s historic Yogi Berra Stadium.
Some of the renovations include a change from grass to turf, replacement of the outfield wall, bullpens and batting cages being relocated, and more.
Shawn Connolly, vice president for University Facilities, shared the exact breakdown of what is being changed to the stadium.
“[The renovations include] removal of the entire playing surface, the installation of a new subsurface drainage system, and the installation of a new artificial turf system,” Connolly said.”[Also], the replacement of the entire outfield wall, including the installation of safety padding throughout. The installation of new batting cages and pitching bullpens for both home and visiting teams. All field lighting will be upgraded to energy-efficient LED fixtures. This will both provide a more natural light on the field and increase the lighting levels. Both the home and visitor dugout benches will be completely renovated and upgraded to include necessary safety fencing. Home and visitor locker rooms will be renovated.”
The stadium needed renovation due to the pressure of multiple games being played on grass. With the new installation of turf, this will bring more teams to the field to play baseball. More events for students will also be suitable with a turf layout.
“The stadium was a grass field, and the main thrust of the improvement was to convert the field to turf,” Connolly said. “Grass does not hold up under the pressure of having multiple teams play on it. The desire is to have multiple university, club, and recreation teams use the field for baseball. Additionally, with a turf field, we will be able to program its use for other athletics, recreation and student events. It will be an asset that can be used the entire year in multiple ways to enhance the student experience on campus.”
Koppell shared his thoughts on the renovations as the stadium did not meet the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s standards. Koppell also explained how Montclair State came together with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to develop the facility.
“Here we had a situation where the facility needed some help,” Koppell said. “The field wasn’t up to [the National Collegiate Athletic Association playing standards or at least not to our satisfaction, but a tricky one for us when we have tight budgets and we’re trying to put all of our resources as our colleagues at [the New Jersey Institute of Technology] towards making a better facility, how do you find the opportunity to build a facility and we said ‘Well we can do this together and we can do something better together than we would otherwise be able to do by ourselves’ and that is the beauty of this collaboration.”
The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of this year.
“The renovations are progressing very well and barring any unforeseen site conditions, they will be complete by the end of the calendar year,” Connolly said.