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Behind the scenes at Rio Tinto: The makings of a world-class venue

Have you ever dreamed of managing a world-class sports venue? Welcome to the life of Dan Farnes.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Growing up a mere stone's throw away from the stadium he now manages, Dan Farnes knew what he wanted to accomplish as an adult.  Attending Utah State University and receiving a degree in horticulture, Farnes went on to greener pastures - both literally and figuratively.  Achieving his childhood dream, Dan Farnes is the current Director of Fields and Grounds for Real Salt Lake.

Along with Todd Pearce, Darren Criswell and Brett Call, Farnes begins his work the day after any match at Rio Tinto.

"The day after, we perform our divot walk to look for and fix any divots in the natural grass," Farnes said.  "We look for any pulled up grass or holes and either replace or reseed the area - especially trouble areas like the goal boxes and touchlines (where the linesmen run)."  They then proceed to water and mow the pitch at precisely 7/8th of an inch three to four times a week to achieve the desired, geometrically appealing design.

While these simple but important tasks are something that many would just take for granted, Dan Farnes relishes in the opportunity to "keep [the field] at a high standard."  Whether it is an amateur high school match or the CONCACAF Champion's League final, Farnes treats everything the same.

"Like I said before, it is important that we keep the high standards that we have set in order to keep everything as level as possible," he said.

The only difference when it comes to locally televised matches as opposed to nationally televised ones is the amount of planning involved.

"For nationally televised matches it is a bit more busy," he said bout the preparation. "We have to plan ahead for more cameras and press and work around them."

No stranger to flexibility, Farnes has also had to prepare for additional matches at Rio Tinto.  With the stadium hosting CONCACAF Olympic qualifying matches this October, Farnes rsaideported that CONCACAF officials have already toured the stadium.  "Everything stays the same, basically, but we do have to set out bench shields as a requirement," Dan said.

A member of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), Farnes is also able to give Rio Tinto a foot up in these respects.  Publishing periodic articles and updates from other stadiums around the country, the STMA provides an insight into the turf management world.  In Dan's own words:  "I am able to see what others are doing and apply it here."

That is not the only thing that Farnes has going for him either.  "The coaching staff is very accommodating and helps us [the grounds crew] out," he said.  "I'm really happy with the stadium and practice grounds.  The ownership puts in a lot of money.  It's been a really good place to work."

When asked about improvements that fans may see in the near future, Dan Farnes would not go into detail but reiterated the importance of the America First Pavilion and promised something is on its way.

"We are working on something for next spring," he said. "It will be a big improvement.  It is pretty exciting."

At the end of the day, Farnes modestly describes himself as a big soccer guy.  "There is nothing better than catching a game in the summer and cheering on the guys."

But as we often forget, those moments are made possibly by him and his crew. So next time you go to Rio Tinto, remember to give thanks to the guys behind the scene that make it all possible.

To follow the exploits of Dan Farnes and Company follow @RTS_Grounds on Twitter.