St. Paul, Minn – CHS Field opened in 2015 to rave reviews. While the ballpark itself has received numerous awards across the sports landscape, one area has largely flown under the radar, until now. Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) – the professional association for 2,700 men and women who manage sports fields worldwide and are critical to the safety of athletes and coaches – awarded its 2018 “Field of the Year” winners and CHS Field, led by head groundskeeper Marcus Campbell, was named Professional Baseball “Field of the Year.”
This was the first season Campbell assumed the role as head groundskeeper for the Saints. He took the reigns from Nick Baker, who left prior to the 2018 season for the Milwaukee Brewers organization as the fields manager at their spring training site in Phoenix. Campbell oversaw a ballpark that hosts more than 150 days of activities during a given year, which includes 50 Saints home games. With the Twin Cities serving as host for a “Bold North” Super Bowl LII, CHS Field was transformed into a winter wonderland featuring a 35’ high by 130’ long snow Super Slide as well as an ice fishing pond. For the first time in its history, CHS Field played host to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball playoffs as well as the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series. Once again, CHS Field hosted several high school section tournaments as well as the state high school baseball tournament. Additionally, each St. Paul school was provided the opportunity to play a free, regular season game at CHS Field. Numerous events were hosted by the ballpark including the Cat Video Festival, Beer Dabbler Craft Beer Festival, Grill Fest, AARP Movie Night, and Bacon and Beer Classic. Through it all, Campbell kept the ballpark in pristine shape that was lauded by all.
“No one in baseball has a more challenging job than the head groundskeeper of the St. Paul Saints,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer. “Marcus Campbell and his staff have been tasked with providing a first-in-class playing surface for our players and coaching staff, Hamline University’s baseball program, other collegiate, high school, and amateur baseball programs. He’s asked to do all of this while also providing unprecedented access to our fans and hosting an extensive list of promotions and special events. We couldn’t be prouder of Marcus and excited to see him recognized by the STMA.”
In January 2017 CHS Field was honored by the Minnesota Park and Sports Turf Managers Association (MPSTMA) as their 2016 Field of the Year in the state of Minnesota.
Every year, STMA presents the industry’s highest honors to members who manage baseball, football, soccer, softball and other sporting playing surfaces at the professional, collegiate, schools (K-12), and parks and recreation levels. Other 2018 winners include:
- Baseball – CHS Field at St. Paul Saints (St. Paul, Minn.)
- Soccer – Red Bull Arena at New York Red Bulls (Harrison, N.J.)
College and University
- Baseball – Melching Field at Conrad Park at City of Deland (Deland, Fla.)
- Football – Kenan Stadium at University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
- Soccer – Merlo Field at University of Portland (Portland, Ore.)
- Softball – Captains Park at Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Va.)
- Sporting Grounds – 5/3 Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.)
“Each year our awards committee selects the natural grass playing surface that exemplifies the STMA member’s hard work and dedication to sports turf management and their passion for field safety and playability,” says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. “With each passing year, the bar is raised by each applicant helping to grow the sports turf industry.”
A panel of 13 judges independently scored entries based on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program. Judges may not award a field in each category. Winners receive a plaque, recognition at the STMA annual Awards Banquet, and will be featured in a 2019 issue of SportsTurf Magazine, the official monthly publication of STMA.