The City of Kamloops was the winner of an international turf war, so to speak, getting a "field of the year" award from the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) for their work on Norbrock Stadium.
"It's the first time a Canadian city has ever won," says Jeff Putnam, parks and civic facilities manager. "It's quite a historic award."
"We couldn't believe that we won in the first year we submitted an application. We're just over the moon."
Norbrock came out tops in the schools and parks, baseball category. There are also awards handed out for professional and college and university stadiums; with notable winners like Red Bull Arena (home to the New York Red Bulls) and Keenan Stadium (home of North Carolina Tar Heels football). Winners are selected by a panel of 13 judges that gives scores based on things like playability, appearance, use of innovative solutions and effective use of budget.
In their first time applying for an award, Putnam says they had to provide a detailed presentation that included documenting the field's maintenance year-round and explaining how city staff produce high-quality turf in the unique Kamloops climate.
He couldn't give away all their secrets, but Putnam says the knowledgeable staff are able to use unique fertilization and aeration processes to keep the field at its best.
"We have one of the most experienced turf management crews in the country, so they know what they're doing," he says. "In terms of infield grooming, we have specialty equipment for that as well, as edging between the grass and infield, so we have clean, straight lines that you would see at a major league ballpark."
Congrats to our 2018 “Field of the Year” in the Schools and Parks Baseball category, Norbrock Stadium at @CityofKamloops (Kamloops, B.C.) and Shawn Cook, Sports Field Manager and Mike DeCicco, Crew Leader – Turf! ⚾️ #SportsTurf #FieldExperts pic.twitter.com/jZqE4LUtqu— STMA (@FieldExperts) November 27, 2018
Putnam also made a point of thanking all the partners that help with the field including the groups, such as Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops Minor Baseball Association and the High Country Flyers, that help keep the field clean.
While the city was recognized for its ballpark, Putnam says the same crews are treating all the other fields around Kamloops as well and they plan to apply for other categories in the future.
"I think this helps reinforce our leading-edge, Tournament Capital brand. So we're excited about that," he says.