Mitchell Stadium of Bluefield, West Virginia, is the winner of the America’s Best High School Football Stadiums contest by USA Today High School Sports. The contest seeded the top 16 high school football stadiums in the country, which included Mitchell at the 13th seed, and then allowed fans to vote online to decide the winner of each matchup. Mitchell defeated the fourth seeded Paul Brown Tiger Stadium of Massillon, Ohio, in the first round. In the second round, Mitchell topped the fifth seeded Round Valley Ensphere of Eagar, Arizona. Mitchell beat out the 16th seeded Stadium Bowl of Tacoma, Washington, in the semifinal round. And in the final round, Mitchell received more votes than 10th seeded R.R. Jones Stadium in El Paso, Texas, to be named America’s Best High School Football Stadium.
Mitchell Stadium was built in 1936. It is located on the border of Bluefield, West Virginia, and Bluefield, Virginia, and overlooks the scenic East River Mountain. Mitchell is currently home to two dominant high school football programs and one college team. The Graham G-Men of Bluefield, Virginia, and the Bluefield Beavers of Bluefield, West Virginia, are the two high school teams that share the home field. Since GHS plays in West Virginia, it is the only school in the country to host its games in another state. The stadium holds 10,000 fans, but the annual Graham-Beaver game between the two high schools typically sees crowds over the stadium’s capacity, at around 12,000 attendees. The rivalry game was once televised on ESPN in 1991, and it has been featured and streamed by the Great American Rivalry Series for the past decade.
The Bluefield College Rams have also called Mitchell Stadium home since their football program was reinstated in 2011. BC is located in Bluefield, Virginia, and competes in the NAIA. The BC football program had existed from 1922 to 1941, but disappeared at the beginning of World War II.
Mitchell Stadium has also been the site of some NCAA football games, including three for the West Virginia Mountaineers. WVU played three games in Mitchell Stadium from 1953 to 1955, which consisted of one trip to Bluefield in each of those seasons. In 1953, the Mountaineers defeated Virginia Tech 12-7. In 1954, WVU played the Virginia Military Institute in Bluefield and came away with a 40-6 blowout win. And in 1955, the Mountaineers played their last game in Mitchell with another big win, 47-12, over VMI.
Having Mitchell Stadium named America’s Best High School Stadium is not only an accomplishment for Bluefield, but for the entire state of West Virginia. The contest gave West Virginia high school football a chance to gain national recognition, by having one of its stadiums beat out some of the country’s other top high school football facilities.