New stadium to honor Robinson

Citi Field rotunda to remember a baseball legend

NEW YORK -- When the Mets' new stadium, Citi Field, opens its doors in 2009, thousands of fans will pass through the main gates and be greeted by a quotation -- one dealing not with the game of baseball, but life.

The Mets and Citigroup Inc. announced Monday that Citi Field's entry rotunda -- designed to be reminiscent of that of Ebbets Field -- will be dedicated to Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

"A life is not important," a ceiling-high inscription will read, "except for the impact it has on other lives."

The quotation -- to be placed above Robinson's signature, and next to a 1950s-era photograph of the legend -- dates to Robinson's post-retirement life. Its meaning holds true now, and will for future generations.

"Millions of people should go through the rotunda and think about that," Mets chairman Fred Wilpon said. "Within the rotunda, we will going to tell the story of Jackie Robinson, not only as a great baseball player but also as a great American.

" ... The more the world knows and adopts Jackie's ideals, the better we all will be."

When Citi Field opens its doors for the first time in 2009, fans will experience that inspirational message and more in a rotunda area highlighting Robinson's legacy as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball.

"It's a tremendous tribute to a great man," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "I think, more than anything, it's something that will be great for young fans to see and experience -- to learn about Jackie and what he meant to the game and to life, the social effect he had on this country.

"Anything to do with history and education, I think is important, and this is nice to be able to walk into a facility and see something of that magnitude staring right at you. It's something that is long overdue and should be celebrated."

Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, accepted an artist's rendering of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda on Monday during the stadium unveiling.

"It is my hope that, as individuals and groups walk through the rotunda, they begin to be inspired," Robinson said. "They will begin to think about their own lives and what the meaning of life is. I hope it will spread not just joy, but also critical thinking about society."

Wilpon said that the Mets and Citigroup will commission a statue of Robinson to greet fans entering the state-of-the-art facility, displaying Robinson in the uniform of the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he broke the color barrier in 1947 and played through 1956.

"The statue of Jack and the experience of passing through the rotunda will serve as a source of inspiration for future generations," Rachel Robinson said, "and as a powerful reminder of Jack's commitment to excellence and social progress."

In addition, the Mets and Citigroup have agreed to fund the planning of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Museum and Education Center, to be constructed in Lower Manhattan.

The foundation, established in 1973, offers numerous programs and collegiate scholarships to young adults who live by and embody the ideals employed by Robinson.

"Expanding and creating new resources is always exhilarating, and I'm thrilled the Mets are making this step," Robinson said. "We can make it with them."

Exhibits relating to Robinson will recognize his legacy and the nine values Robinson embodied, as articulated by his daughter, Sharon Robinson: courage, integrity, determination, persistence, citizenship, justice, commitment, teamwork and excellence.

Mets third baseman David Wright said he was among those already looking forward to experiencing the end result of that venture.

"I'm definitely going to take the tour of that museum and try to brush up on my history," Wright said. "Jackie meant so much to this game. I think it's very important that we honor Jackie in this stadium."

Bryan Hoch is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.