May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 50

OPERATIONS
Surviving Climate Issues on Sports Fields
Target Field head groundskeeper sheds light on the effects of weather on the field
By Paula Sliefert

T

here are several challenges that sports field managers may face while
maintaining safe and enjoyable playing surfaces. Depending on the
geographic location of the field, the climate could be one of the key
challenges. For example, Target Field, home of MLB's Minnesota
Twins, contends with the challenges of summer heat and winter cold. In addition, the field is also known for its environmentally responsible practices.

debris blower (which crew members
connect to pipes under the field so
they can blow air into the tarps to
shed water after a light rain).

Head groundskeeper Larry
DiVito sheds some light on how
climate impacts Target Field.

The Target Field grounds crew includes four year-round positions.
Four additional employees join the
crew from March through early
November. 
Although the field's maintenance requirements haven't
changed during the coronavirus
(COVID-19) crisis, the crew has
had to make a few adjustments.
Physical distancing isn't difficult
with much of the outdoor work,
but the crew has been divided into
groups with separate locker, meal
and office areas to maintain a backup if an employee must quarantine.
In a typical year, the crew would
have to schedule a number of special
events and concerts, but those were
suspended in 2020 because of the
pandemic. Still, the shortened Major
League Baseball season kept DiVito
and his crew busy. " Other than April
and May, it was a fairly normal year,
baseball-wise, " he says. He anticipates the coming season to look a bit
different with the possible return of
fans to the stadium this spring. 
MLB is a registered trademark of
Major League Baseball. Team names
are registered trademarks of the teams
indicated.

" Green " Year-Round
Target Field is the first sports franchise in the world to earn the U.S.
Green Building Council's Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) Gold Certification for
operations and maintenance (tinyurl.
com/37bpv7fe). It's also designated
as a Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Certified Facility for
Environmentally Responsible Management (tinyurl.com/48h83n79).
As part of these efforts, the facility
has a system that collects and recycles rainwater and irrigation water,
so it can be used to wash down the
lower deck of the stadium. According to DiVito, this system saves about
15,000 gallons of water per night.

What Happens in the
Offseason Makes a
Difference
" From May 1 to Labor Day, my
job's not that different from other
northern Major League [Baseball]
cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit or Boston, " DiVito says. " It's
more on the front and backend
- how you get the field ready for
opening day and how you prepare
50	 Parks & Recreation

| M AY 2 02 1 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

it for winter, so it comes out in
good condition. "  
For DiVito, that starts with planning. From late September to early November, he has a program
to lightly feed the grass and apply
fungicides to anticipate snow mold
pressure leading into winter. Then,
his crew applies double topdressing
to help insulate the plants and puts
lightweight, breathable agricultural
blankets on the field as a buffer in
the absence of snow cover.
In the spring, their first move is to
clear snow. Depending on how deep
it is, they may use a field heating
system to gradually melt it or clear
it with their rotary mower, which
is configured as a snow-only unit.
They also can attach a plow to one
of their infield groomers. Both machines have a relatively lightweight
footprint, which is important on a
sand-based natural grass field.

Relying on a Diverse Fleet
In addition to rotary mowers and
infield groomers, Target Field's
fleet includes reel mowers, several
walk-behind greens mowers, turf
sprayers and a greens roller. The
grounds team also has a turf aerator, a debris sweeper attachment
and a topdresser, as well as diesel,
gas and electric utility vehicles and a

Still Busy, But
It's a Bit Different 

Paula Sliefert is Senior Marketing
Manager, Sports Fields and Grounds at
Toro.


https://www.tinyurl.com/37bpv7fe https://www.tinyurl.com/37bpv7fe http://www.tinyurl.com/48h83n79

May 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2021 - Parks & Recreation

May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
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May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
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