Football season is on the horizon and many teams across New Jersey will take part in neutral site games throughout the season.
Among the biggest neutral-site events will be The Battle at the Beach, played at Carey Stadium in Ocean City within view of the Atlantic Ocean, the Rumble on the Raritan at Rutgers’ SHI Stadium, and the Zone Six Classic at MetLife Stadium.
With more of these events popping up each year, what would be some good venues to add in future years?
Here are a half dozen venues in or around the Garden State that would be unique places to host a New Jersey high school football game.
Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson
The only one on the list recognized as a national historic landmark, Hinchliffe Stadium would be a terrific use of a venue that has been standing for nine decades.
A 10,000-seat stadium near the city’s Great Falls, Hinchliffe Stadium originally began its life as a racetrack, hosting boxing matches and pro football games. Famously, Hinchliffe was a major site of Negro League baseball in the 1930s. Nearby schools Clifton and Eastside would use the field for football games and the stadium was often used for annual Thanksgiving clashes between Eastside and Kennedy.
The stadium has been saved from the brink of demolition and a $94 million project to renovate the site began last year. The Negro League ties have brought rumors of Major League Baseball playing a Field of Dreams-like game on the site, but it would be fitting to see the renovations completed and the neighboring football teams go back to using the hallowed field for a game once again.
Red Bull Arena, Harrison
Football has never been played at Red Bull Arena, not the American version anyway. But this venue feels like a no-brainer with a large field that plays host to the Red Bulls in the MLS and Gotham FC in the NWSL.
The arena is in the shadow of Newark, where professional football in New Jersey dates back to the 1880s. Many of those sites have been repurposed and some still serve as high school football fields. Red Bull Arena would tap into that heritage.
The MLS season runs from February to October, allowing a window for the field to be used during the second half of the regular season or the playoffs. On the border of Hudson and Essex counties, there are a lot of schools right outside of Harrison that could pack some of the arena’s 25,000 seats.
There’s also one thing at Red Bull Arena that the other major football fields in New Jersey don’t have: a transparent partial roof.
Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford
Football teams dream of ending their season at MetLife Stadium, but what about beginning the season in another part of the Meadowlands?
Sharing a parking lot with MetLife is the Meadowlands Racetrack, opened back in 1976. The track has a one mile circumference with a turf infield used by thoroughbreds with a length of seven furlongs, or more than 1,500 yards.
The racetrack offers racing for more than 180 days of the season, but also shuts down twice per year for track maintenance, including once in the middle of September. While at a lull during the racing season, putting a football field in the infield would be quite a unique spot for a game.
Sinatra Park, Hoboken
A field primarily used by youth soccer program Hoboken City FC, Sinatra Park is beautiful enough that the legendary crooner from New Jersey would have loved to see it himself.
Around the corner from the Stevens Tech, people of all ages have enjoyed the game of soccer on this terrific field.
What would make teams want to play a football game on this turf? Just look at that view.
The New York City skyline cowers over the pitch and you can’t miss a perfect view of the Freedom Tower. This could be a great venue for early in the season, when many teams hold remembrances for victims of 9/11.
ShoreTown Ballpark, Lakewood
One of the more beloved minor-league parks in New Jersey is the recently-renamed ShoreTown Ballpark in Lakewood. Home to the rebranded Jersey Shore BlueClaws, the High-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, the park can hold up to 6,500 fans.
The dimensions of the field have 325 feet to each foul pole and 400 feet to reach center field, so fitting a football field in here would take the length of home plate and out toward center field, with some creativity probably needed.
Not too far from the boardwalk of Point Pleasant, this could be a unique spin on some of the larger rivalries for the Shore Conference.
Maimonides Park, Brooklyn
This one is not in New Jersey, but the “Battle of the Bridge” series already pits New Jersey teams against New York teams. So why not make use of one of the most unique places in Coney Island for some of those games?
Maimonides Park is the current name for the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the High-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
With iconic structures like the Parachute Jump and the Cyclone rollercoaster overlooking the field, it’s a venue feet away from the beach. It has played host to more than just baseball games, being used for Rugby New York’s first season in Major League Rugby, as well as hosting the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League for two seasons.