Rio Tinto Stadium, home to Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC, has been selected as the nation's premier soccer pitch by the Sports Turf Managers Association, a non-profit organization that recognizes excellence in sports field management.
“We are extremely proud of Dan Farnes and his whole crew for the work they do to keep the field at Rio Tinto Stadium in the best shape possible. They deal with snow, rain, heat and everything in between – sometimes all in a course of just a few days or weeks - and never let the climate be a hindrance towards keeping the grass in peak condition,” General Manager and Vice President of Facility Operations at Rio Tinto Stadium Craig Martin, said. “For them to be recognized by the STMA is confirmation of what we’ve believed all along – that they are the best in the business.”
The STMA Field of the Year award is the first for the crew of Rio Tinto Stadium and the Real Salt Lake Organization. Real Salt Lake joins six other Major League Soccer clubs who have been recognized by STMA for their pristine and well-kept professional soccer fields.
The pitch management of Rio Tinto is led by Dan Farnes, Director of Fields and Grounds who has maintained the Kentucky blue grass field since 2011. Recently, Farnes absolved the overseeing of Zions Bank Real Academy upon its opening in February 2018, which includes two indoor training turf fields, five full-sized grass fields and Zions Bank Stadium, home to 2019 USL Championship Title-Winners Real Monarchs SLC.
In addition to serving Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC, the Rio Tinto Stadium pitch has played host to a multitude of international matches, including FIFA World Cup qualification, CONCACAF Gold Cup, various friendlies and local high-school state championship matches.