Two New Jersey universities are coming together to ensure the future of one of northern New Jersey’s signature baseball venues.
Montclair State University and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are partnering to renovate Yogi Berra Stadium, part of a multi-million-dollar collaboration that will provide a home field for both schools’ NCAA baseball programs.
The project will have a total cost of $5.3 million, which will revamp the stadium for the 2024 season.
Improvements to the facility will include a new, state-of-the-art artificial turf playing surface, dugout upgrades, outfield wall replacement, a new storage building, new bullpens and batting cages, improved VIP and press boxes, and upgrades to both locker rooms. Future renovations could also include upgrades to additional space within the facility to create supplemental locker rooms.
Built in 1998, Yogi Berra Stadium is home to the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center and the Montclair State University baseball team. As part of the original construction, the stadium includes seating for 3,100, with room for an additional 4,000 lawn seats. It was formerly home to the New Jersey Jackals, an independent professional baseball team, from 1998-2022.
The enhancements will position the facility as a location capable of hosting conference and NCAA baseball tournaments as well as other high-profile events, making it a year-round facility that will serve the baseball teams, all students and the community at large.
“The future of higher education is collaboration, not competition,” says Montclair President Jonathan Koppell. “We must create new partnerships that allow for the sharing of resources between institutions. We are proud to embark on this initiative with NJIT to not only revitalize one of the crown jewels of New Jersey baseball, but to provide what we hope can be a new model for how colleges and universities can work together to create a better future for students.”
“This agreement is an outstanding example of institutions working together and sharing resources to address a need and develop a mutually beneficial partnership that serves our students,” said NJIT President Teik C. Lim. “This is exactly the type of collaboration that we would like to see more of between universities.”
The NJIT baseball program plays in the NCAA Division I America East Conference and earned the America East’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2021, winning NJIT’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game. NJIT has qualified for the America East Conference Tournament in all three seasons as a member of the league, and the Highlanders are scheduled to open the 2024 season at Miami on February 16 and will take on Seton Hall on March 12 in their first home game. Highlander alumnus Mark Leiter Jr. currently is a member of the Chicago Cubs.
An NCAA Division III program, Montclair State University baseball has enjoyed continued success as one of the preeminent programs in the country. Winning national titles in 1987, 1993 and 2000, the program has also reached the NCAA Tournament 15 times and fielded 37 All-Americans.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our student-athletes and students in general,” says Montclair Athletic Director Rob Chesney. “We are looking forward to our partnership with NJIT and for our teams to play in one of the premiere collegiate baseball stadiums. I appreciate President Koppell and President Lim’s leadership and all the hard work so many put into making this happen.”
“Since the closure and demolition of Riverfront Stadium, we have been looking for a permanent home field for our baseball team,” says NJIT Athletic Director Lenny Kaplan. “Yogi Berra Stadium is the perfect venue for our student-athletes to call home for years to come. I want to thank President Koppel and the entire Montclair administration for being open to the idea of a true partnership between our universities. The end result will be one of the best baseball facilities in the region.”
This article was featured in the Winter 2024 edition of Montclair magazine.