Rio Tinto Stadium’s pitch named the best soccer field in the nation

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pouring rain turns to snow as Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers play in their first MLS playoff game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

Rio Tinto Stadium on Tuesday was named the top professional soccer field in the country by the Sports Turf Managers Association.

Rio Tinto, home to Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC, was chosen for the accolade by a panel of 12 independent judges who scored entries based on “playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program,” per a news release.

“Each of these natural grass facilities embody the level of excellence that sports field managers around the country strive for every day,” said Kim Heck, certified association executive and chief executive officer of STMA. “All of the applicants are true examples of professionalism and represent the unwavering commitment of STMA members to field safety and playability.”

Rio Tinto’s grass field is managed by Dan Farnes, director of fields and grounds at the stadium.

The STMA is a nonprofit organization consisting of 2,700 that oversee sports venues from recreational to professional levels.