Bluefield versus Woodrow Wilson

Members of the Bluefield Cheer Squad fire up the crowd during the Bluefield versus Woodrow Wilson game at Mitchell Stadium, Friday.

BLUEFIELD — West Virginia’s governor joined a celebration Friday when he issued a proclamation honoring Mitchell Stadium, now America’s Best High School Football Stadium.

Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield was named America’s Best High School Football Stadium on Nov. 4 when it earned enough votes to beat 15 other high school football stadiums across the nation to win the honor. When the competition’s final round ended, Mitchell Stadium had received 2,149,143 votes and its competitor, R.R. Jones Stadium in El Paso, Texas, had 1,515,558 votes.

“Your support, your votes and your faith made this a reality,” announcer Rick Baker told the crowd at Mitchell Stadium. “And now the whole world knows what we have always known – that Mitchell Stadium is America’s Best High School Football Stadium.”

Gov. Jim Justice arrived at the stadium soon after the kick-off of the game between Bluefield High School and Woodrow Wilson High School. He was scheduled to present a proclamation at halftime declaring Nov. 8, 2019 as “Mitchell Stadium Day.”

Seated near the mid-field stripe, the governor listed the four teams – the Bluefield High School Beavers, Graham High School G-Men, Bluefield Middle School Buccaneers and Bluefield Rams – that call the field their home.

“So many people enjoy this beautiful facility,” Justice said. “I could never be more congratulatory. It will never be taken away from you.”

Charlie Cole of Bluefield, a friend of Justice, was called on to read the proclamation itself.

“Whereas, Mitchell Stadium is a tangible representation of community pride – a pride that transcends town boundaries and state borders, and unites all of us, regardless of our home state and team allegiances, in common friendship and purpose,” Cole read from the proclamation. “Whereas, for these reasons, Mitchell Stadium was rightly and justly selected as ‘America’s Best High School Football Stadium’ by USA Today.”

The governor, gripping the proclamation, walked to the bell at the edge of the sideline which is dedicated to Lil’ Tony Webster and told the crowd, “We’re surely going to remember Lil’ Tony, and we’ll also remember your loyalty...you’re national champions in every way.”

Justice visited the stadium’s press box and watched the game before heading for the field to issue his proclamation. He looked down at the field and took in the view.

“Again, it’s one of West Virginia’s treasures that a lot of times goes unnoticed,” Justice said.

Bluefield,Va., Mayor Don Harris was among the local dignitaries attending Friday’s game. To have Mitchell Stadium to earn so many votes both in Bluefield, Va. and the city of Bluefield, and from former residents across the nation, was “beyond comprehension.”

“For the number of people who moved from here and voted, we thank all of them for this,” Harris said.

“I think that it’s awesome,” State Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, said before the governor arrived. “We need more positive publicity in southern West Virginia. Getting a national honor is great and the history behind this stadium is remarkable.”

Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett said Mitchell Stadium’s new title is a win for the entire region.

“It’s exciting to say the least,” Puckett said, adding, “I hope that the people that are celebrating senior night tonight can truly appreciate the magnitude of this achievement.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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