Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium 1 Ira Errett Rodgers Dr Morgantown, WV 26506
Year Opened: 1980 Capacity: 60,000
Take Me Home, Country Roads
The last time I attended a football game at West Virginia was in 2007 – several years before Geno Smith, five years before they joined the Big 12, and long before the 2016 stadium renovations. Since that time the football experience at Mountaineer Field has just gotten better and better; the fans are passionate, the concessions are solid, and the band is top notch. The only challenge is getting in and out.
Food & Beverage 4
Mountaineer Field boasts a wide array of concessions items from football-themed stands, with names such as Red Zone Grill and Sideline Stands. However, stands with the same name have different items around the stadium, which means you will have to hunt around for the items you want – ranging from burgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken tenders, pulled pork, pizza, and even pepperoni rolls.
Besides the main stands you can also find smaller stands all around the facility, offering snack items such as peanuts, popcorn, glazed nuts, and ice cream, as well as stands selling beer, wine, and seltzer.
The prices for all these items are very reasonable for this level of football – for example you can find hot dogs, popcorn, and candy for only $3.50, bottled water for $4, and alcohol starting at $8.50, which is a lot less than you will pay at many similar venues.
West Virginia has a great atmosphere, and it starts with the marching band – the band does all sorts of formations during pre-game and during halftime, for example the WVU logo, state flower, shape of West Virginia, and even a football. The best thing about these formations is that the band flips them around so both the home and visiting stands can see them right-side up; the band wears white with dark blue capes, so you will see the formations done in both colors as they switch between sides.
Besides the band there are also plenty of pyrotechnics for fans to enjoy – cones of fire and smoke when the team comes onto the field, as well as fireworks during the National Anthem, whenever the Mountaineers score, and after the game. West Virginia also has a great mascot, and all the traditional fan engagement activities, such as field goal contests and a t-shirt Gatling gun to shower fans with swag. There are also two huge videoboards so you can watch all the replays.
West Virginia University hospital is right behind the north end zone, and there are a bunch of restaurants beyond that, including an Applebee’s; sports bars such as Kegler’s, Smokin’ J’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings; Sam’s Pizza; and plenty of fast food restaurants as well – all of these are within 1-2 miles of the stadium.
Hotels are not quite as numerous as the restaurants, but you can find several well-known chains such as Marriott and Hampton Inn. Morgantown does lack a little in terms of attractions for those who want to spend the day or weekend, but you can find interesting stops such as the Don Knotts statue and the USS West Virginia mast and bell, as well as several parks for the nature lovers.
There is a great tailgating scene at West Virginia – from inside the stadium you can see tents and tailgaters expanding out quite a ways, and many fans stay until the end to sing Country Roads and to watch the band march out.
The stands are also pretty full – not a sellout by any means but not very many empty seats either, especially for Big 12 matchups. The stands do tend to thin out a little as the game goes on, though, so there will be fewer by the fourth quarter than you will see during the second.
I will be honest – getting to Mountaineer Field is tough. Morgantown is just off I-79, but a little far from other major towns, so it may take a while to get here depending on where you are coming from. Also you will probably have to park pretty far from the stadium – you can find parking starting at $10 near where the restaurants are if you are willing to walk a bit, and the prices go up from there the closer you get to the stadium. Note that you will need a pass to park on the hill next to the facility, and if you do park on that hill, it will still take time to get back to your car, either waiting for one of the shuttles or walking back up the hill.
Once inside the stadium, the lines are long for the concessions and restrooms, even before it hits halftime, though the lines at the entrances are not too bad; there is a long line right before the gates open of all those who came early, but once that rush is over it gets easier.
You can’t really see the game from the concourse due to the tunnels that go up and down to the seats, which block your vision of the field. On the plus side they have TV screens all along the concourse, so you can still keep track of the game while waiting in line to get food or use the restrooms.
Getting out after the game is also a bit challenging – the local police try to help by re-directing traffic; blocking certain streets and making other streets one way, meaning both sides go the same direction, allowing some people to drive on the “wrong” side of the road as they exit. But having certain streets blocked means you may have to loop all the way around to go in the direction you want to go in, and traffic is pretty heavy nearby for 30-60 minutes after the game.
One option to note is West Virginia does have an elevated train consisting of boxy little vehicles, which shuttle folks from campus to the stadium and back – due to the issues with driving mentioned above, if you are able to use that train it is probably worthwhile, and should save you some time.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to West Virginia football games start at $65 on their website (conference games), but you can likely find them on third party websites for a little cheaper given they don’t usually sell out (the stadium has a capacity of 60,000 – for most games lately they are at two-thirds or three-quarters of that). That is a fair price for big-time college football, and given the reasonable concessions and low cost parking options, makes attending a game at Mountaineer Field a good return on investment.
Being able to see the band march out after the game is a plus, and the setting is very nice, with the hills and trees in the background. The scenery on the drive up is pleasant as well – through the mountains of rural West Virginia, a part of the country many folks have never seen; a nice break from the hustle and bustle of city living.
Mountaineer Field has a great atmosphere with lots of amenities for fans, especially the pyrotechnics, and the recent upgrades to the stadium have improved things quite a bit. As long as you plan ahead in term of getting in and out, you should have a great time.