The Sports Turf Managers Association has announced that Ed Smith Stadium, the spring training home of the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., has won the Field of the Year Award for professional baseball. Head groundskeeper of Florida operations Dan Thomas will accept the award this week at the 27th annual STMA Conference & Exhibition in San Diego, Calif.
STMA’s Field of the Year Award, considered the highest honor in the industry, is awarded annually to various sporting grounds members at the professional, collegiate, schools, and parks and recreation levels. Among all sporting grounds entries, a panel of 15 judges rated sporting grounds based on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, and effective use of budget and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program. STMA is a nonprofit organization for individuals who manage and maintain sports fields. The association was founded in 1981 and now has more than 2,600 members.
Ed Smith Stadium was built in 1989 and underwent extensive renovations prior to the 2011 season. In the six years since the Orioles moved major league spring training to Sarasota, more than 640,000 fans have enjoyed Orioles baseball at Ed Smith Stadium, helping to establish numerous club and Sarasota attendance records. The ballpark also hosts special events and year-round OriolesREACH initiatives through the Sarasota 365 program, demonstrating that the club’s commitment to its southern home goes far beyond baseball.
“This award is a source of great pride for the Orioles and the entire Sarasota community as it recognizes Ed Smith Stadium among the best sports facilities in the country,” said David Rovine, vice president, Orioles-Sarasota. “We commend Dan and his staff for their tireless efforts to make our ballpark the crown jewel of spring training in Florida. The carefully-maintained grounds are integral to fueling the sports tourism economy year-round as part of our Sarasota 365 commitment through tournaments and other baseball-related events, as well as community initiatives.”