FOR NEW IRONBOUND STADIUM AT ST. CHARLES AND ROME STREETS IN EAST WARD
New facility will replace closed athletic facility following environmental cleanup
Mayor Ras J. Baraka, East Ward Council Member Augusto Amador, and other dignitaries broke ground on May 1st for the new Ironbound Stadium, at the corner of St. Charles and Rome Streets in Newark’s East Ward.
The City of Newark is breaking ground to reclaim the athletic fields at the Ironbound Stadium, which were closed in the late 1980s due to PCBs discharged onto the field from the adjoining Tidewater Baling facility which crushed 55-gallon drums, transformers, cars, and other industrial scrap to recover the metal.
“The rebuilding of Ironbound Stadium has been too long in coming. I have sought private sector funding for a new stadium since I first took office. I am very pleased that the Celanese Corporation has stepped up to the plate and will help us restore this magnificent sports facility,” said Mayor Baraka.
“After over 40 years and several attempts, our community is finally going to enjoy again the availability of this facility. On this joyful occasion, I must commend the efforts made by Mayor Baraka and members of his Administration to make the Celanese Corporation a partner on this project, said Council Member Amador. “As someone who played soccer there, I am very happy to see that we finally ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel’ and we’re also able to name the field after Eddie Moraes, who was a sports and recreation icon in our community.”
Despite its location in the shadow of the Tidewater Baling facility, the stadium was once an important gathering place for the Ironbound. Groups of all ages would organize soccer games on the field, and the local high school, East Side, played football there on Fridays. In 1986, PCBs were discovered in the oils leaking from the open pits on the Tidewater facility onto the playing fields and the Ironbound Stadium was closed to the public.
Although Tidewater entered various agreements with EPA to address contamination, the company continued to operate in a similar fashion until it closed in 2000. In 2008, EPA completed a clean-up which removed over 18,000 tons of PCB contaminated soil from the Tidewater facility; however, the cleanup did not address impacts to the Ironbound Stadium fields.
Celanese historically owned a portion of the Ironbound Recreational site and helped the City address contamination and construct the Ironbound Aquatic Center in the early 2000s. While it is not responsible for the contamination that caused the City to close the field, Celanese is partnering with the City to reclaim the field for the community in which it once operated. The field will be cleaned up under the oversight of NJDEP and EPA in a manner which exceeds current regulatory requirements to ensure the site will be safe for the community to use for many years to come.
Artificial turf fields and lighting will be installed and restorative work will be completed on the bleachers to ensure fans have a safe place from which to cheer for their teams. The total project is estimated to cost roughly $7 million.
Celanese is making a financial contribution to the work and volunteering its technical expertise. The City of Newark will fund the construction of the field using funds from a bond package approved in 2017.
The renovated fields are expected to open in spring 2018 and will be named after Newark native and local soccer legend Eddie Moraes, a former coach at East Side and founder of the Luso International Sports Association, one of New Jersey’s largest soccer leagues.