NEW YORK --- Rachel Robinson walked past cheering construction workers and into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda for the first time, stood on a balcony above the 160-foot wide floor, and was awed as she gazed at the 70-foot high arches.
"It's like walking into a cathedral in a way," she said. "I love St. Peter's in Rome, but I don't know if I can compare this to St. Peter's."
On the 61st anniversary of the day her husband broke major league baseball's color barrier, more than 330 players, managers and coaches -- including nine entire teams -- wore Jackie Robinson's No. 42 to celebrate the Hall of Famer's accomplishments. The center of the celebration was at Citi Field, the New York Mets' $800 million ballpark under construction adjacent to Shea Stadium.
The Mets unveiled designs for the rotunda, which will contain eight huge pictures of Robinson and have an 8-foot statue of his number in Dodger blue. It will be the central entrance for the ballpark, which opens in 2009, and the Mets estimate 30,000 fans per game will pass through.
Robinson announced the Jackie Robinson Foundation will open a Jackie Robinson Museum in the Tribeca section of Lower Manhattan and that half of the $25 million cost has been raised for the museum, projected to open in 2010.
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time on April 15, 1947.