For the second time in three years, the MAPFRE Stadium playing surface has been named winner of the Sports Turf Managers Association Field of the Year Award.
The home of Columbus Crew SC, the MAPFRE Stadium field has now received this honor twice in the last three years and three times in the previous six. The field is maintained by director of grounds Weston Appelfeller, Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM), and his team, which includes Ben Jackson (CSFM), Andrew Northeim and Nick Roe.
The playing surface regularly draws praise from Columbus Crew SC players and coaches, with head coach Gregg Berhalter lauding Appelfeller’s work in a statement released by the club on Wednesday.
"Weston and his team do a fantastic job of maintaining our field to the highest standard. His dedication and attention to detail help make our pitch the best in Major League Soccer, and they're certainly deserving recipients of this honor," Berhalter said. "The immaculate field conditions are integral for our playing style, and so, on behalf of the club, we can't thank the stadium operations team enough for all they do to make MAPFRE Stadium a place we're proud to call home."
The MAPFRE Stadium field could play host to one more game this year, as the Crew SC, who hold a 2-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls heading into Sunday’s second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship, would host the Portland Timbers, who lead FC Dallas 3-1 in their series, if both sides advance to MLS Cup.