Rochester, MN’s Mayo Field was recognized as the 2017 Field of the Year by the Minnesota Park and Sports Turf Managers Association. This is the eighth consecutive year of the award sponsored by Turfco Manufacturing, which recognizes a Minnesota athletic facility for outstanding maintenance, aesthetics and overall playing conditions. The award was presented to city of Rochester Parks and Recreation employees John Munson, Andy Olson, Jordan Kuzma, Nathan Siebrecht and Nick Lewison during the MPSTMA’s annual meeting Jan. 2.

“This made my year,” Munson said. “It’s an exciting time for Mayo Field.”

Munson has been with Rochester’s Parks and Recreation department for 30 years, but this was his first overseeing the care and maintenance of the city’s baseball and softball fields with his coworkers in the parks division – 60 ballfields in total, with Mayo Field as the premier. The field supports the Rochester Honkers baseball team, as well as local youth, high school and collegiate teams.

It’s the parks division team’s effort, he said, that has led to positive comments by coaches, players and fans who frequent the field. During 2017, Munson said they continued transitioning the three-acre field to low-mow bluegrass, which is helping to reduce weeds on the turf, and focused on “small wows” to make the field look better than ever. These included:

  • Using a verticutting mower once a week alongside the field’s normal mowing schedule to reduce thatch and increase airflow to turf, which allowed plants to stand more vertical and enhanced plant health.
  • Changes in water management that helped with field conditions and water efficiency.
  • Slightly widening the running lanes to reduce ag-lime spillover into grass during field grooming, which gave the field cleaner lines and increased productivity by reducing time spent hand-raking the lanes.
  • Using a tiller late in the season to turn over ag-lime reduced springtime effort to eliminate weeds and edge running lanes, and reduced costs of replacing ag-lime material.

“I just tried to do the little things to raise the bar but without breaking the bank,” Munson said. “I had coaches, I had players, I had people that have always come to the field to watch games walk up and say, ‘it’s different around here, and it’s a good different.”

The current stadium has supported generations of baseball fans since it was built in 1951, and Munson said the field’s history is part of what makes it special to him, and to residents, visitors and players.

“The commitment that John Munson and his coworkers have to providing innovative maintenance to a beloved community field, caring for dozens more across a city, and being conscientious of a taxpayer budget is exemplary,” said Greg Brodd, Turfco regional sales manager and MPSTMA member. “Turfco is proud to sponsor this program and we want to continue spotlighting the work of city and school sports turf managers across Minnesota.”

The Field of the Year is chosen from entries by a panel of MPSTMA members. Fields must be located in Minnesota and the panel considers the resourcefulness of staff, budget, maintenance practices and challenges in the management of the sports field in determining winners. Last year’s Field of the Year award was given to CHS Field in St. Paul.

For more information on the MPSTMA, visit www.mpstma.org.

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