"When I use the word 'cathedral,' I only use it when the park deserves it," he said. "And this is a fabulous stadium. There's no detail that they have forgotten. It's really remarkable. Talking to Mark Lerner, who I know put his heart and soul into this thing, and [team president] Stan Kasten, they've done a great job. It's beautiful. It's beautiful on the inside and on the outside."The wave of new ballparks began in 1989 with the opening of what was then called SkyDome, Toronto's flip-top-roofed dome now known as Rogers Centre. And aside from U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Baltimore's Camden Yards, all 21 ballparks that have been built or seriously renovated since then have come under the watch of Selig, who was named interim Commissioner in September 1992. And that's not including the two new yards that will open in New York next year, another in St. Petersburg that's on the drawing board, plus the renovation of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Like Nationals Park, some of the projected construction in Minneapolis, Oakland and Miami wouldn't have happened without the intervention of Selig and his staff. "When you think about the renaissance of the sport -- and it clearly is that -- one of the things that people don't emphasize enough is the new ballparks," Selig said. "They're so good. This [Nationals ownership] group was lucky because they had 20 parks to study. They learned their lesson well and they used their time extremely well. I haven't seen anything from top to bottom that I don't like. This park is unique." As far as taking credit for the ballpark part of baseball's renaissance, though, Selig demurred. "I'll let the rest of you do that -- or not -- as the case may be," he said.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.