Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Mitchell Stadium Stadium Dr Bluefield, WV 24701
Year Opened: 1936
Football along the Border
June Schott Field at Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield, WV is shared by 4 teams – the Rams of Bluefield University (NAIA), the Big Blue of Bluefield State University (D2), and two area high schools. This review will be about the fan experience during a Big Blue game; note the similarity between the two college’s names (who both play at the same venue to boot), so be mindful of which team is playing on which date.
Mitchell Stadium opened in 1936 and was built during the Great Depression as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) – despite its age the 16,000-seat stadium maintains a modern feel due to some recent upgrades. The facility actually reminds me of UTEP’s football stadium, being that the two grandstands were carved out of the mountains; you can actually see the curvature of the hillside along the north side right behind the top of the stands, which is a cool feature. The venue is located inside the town of Bluefield’s city park, which straddles the VA-WV line, so if you had a mind to you could walk a few hundred feet from the stadium and be in a different state.
Stadium Carved into the Hillside, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Food & Beverage 3
There are two concessions stands on the south side – the menu is limited but there is enough to get you by for a couple of hours during a game. The offerings consist of hot dogs and nachos (either can come with cheese and/or chili for $1 more), popcorn, chips, candy, and pickles, as well as coffee, canned or bottled Coke products, and bottled water. The prices are very reasonable, ranging from $1 for coffee (which is a great deal) to $4 for a hot dog/nachos with BOTH chili and cheese.
Of note at Mitchell Stadium are the bleachers carved out of the hillside, the modern turf field with brightly colored end zones (which are only lettered ‘Bluefield’ so as to be appropriate for all 4 teams which play here), and the live Great Dane mascot which fans are welcome to walk up and pet – the dog is huge but is very friendly. The staff also plays some really great music here, and those in attendance can be seen dancing along to it throughout the contest. There is also the requisite band and cheer squad, as well as a fixed stand selling Bluefield State team gear on the south end, so you will find all the standard accoutrements when attending a football game here.
Bluefield State Big Blue Live Mascot, Photo by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Mitchell Stadium is located in the small town of Bluefield, WV (population 10K) inside the city park, so there is not a whole lot in the area, but there are several great restaurants a few miles away along nearby Highways 19 or 460. Two places I recommend are Blue Spoon Café or Macado’s – Macado’s is a local favorite with several locations in WV/VA, and is most well-known for ‘overstuffed’ sub sandwiches, but it has a sports bar feel (including serving appetizers, wings, and burgers), so is a great place to hang out before or after the game if you want a beer and/or to catch other football games on TV.
The stadium is several miles from I-77, which is the main (and perhaps only) path through the nearby mountains – if coming from the south you will most likely have to drive through the East River Mountain Tunnel. Most fans will take I-77 (from the north or south) and then take 460 west to the facility.
The fans are great at Mitchell Stadium, and you can even see a handful of them out in the parking lot tailgating, but the stands are honestly pretty empty – at the game I attended most recently there were literally three people on the visiting side, and the home side wasn’t much better. In fairness the weather was pretty rainy, but it would be nice to see more fans at the games.
Getting in and out of Mitchell Stadium is pretty easy – getting to the stadium itself may be the harder part, since as mentioned before you probably have to come through the mountains to get here, which makes it a little trickier given the winding/indirect roads. But once you arrive there is free parking right below the stadium, just a short walk up some stairs (or a ramp) to the venue.
The concessions and bathrooms (both are behind the south end zone) are also a quick walk from either the home or visiting stands, and the lines are super short, but I would note the bleachers are pretty steep, so you may not want to sit too high up.
Return on Investment 3
Admission is only $12 to games here, parking is free, and concessions are very low cost, so it certainly won’t break the bank to take in a game here even if you are bringing a large group. Personally I love attending games at small stadiums like this, where you can get really close to the action on the field, but if you are looking for a large, raucous crowd you won’t find that here. There are certainly other football venues with larger crowds/more noise in the area if you prefer that scene, but if your favorite team is playing here that day, or you are just looking for a pleasant day out, attending a game at Mitchell Stadium is a great choice.
The Big Blue have a great saying in “Guard the Hill”, and the graphics they show on screen throughout the game are pretty cool, especially the iconic Great Dane head. They also ring a victory bell after every home team score, and the midfield logo showing the (twin) states of Virginia and West Virginia (in a bold reddish color) is also a pretty sweet nod to the region.