Lease ready for Mill Rats to play at the Point in '24

Apr. 12—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A lease agreement for the Johnstown Mill Rats to play their home baseball games at Sargent's Stadium at the Point this year was approved Wednesday by Johnstown City Council.

It calls for Johnstown Family Entertainment, which owns the Prospect League club, to pay the city $15,000 for use of the downtown Johnstown facility from May 15 through Aug. 15.

The Mill Rats will have concession rights for events at the stadium during those dates, including for Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League and All American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) Tournament games.

Johnstown City Manager Ethan Imhoff expects the contract to be signed soon.

This will be the team's fourth season in the city and its first under a locally led ownership group.

"They're very enthusiastic about working with the stadium and the city and the Mill Rats," Imhoff said. "We're excited to have them on board. I think it's going to be a new product, a different product, something that we're excited about, that will generate some buzz and ultimately get people downtown."

The new group has only owned the team since November, which factored into the decision to go with a one-year lease, according to Mill Rats part-owner Bart Vickroy.

"It will give us some time to actually work through what the future looks like in terms of a lease," Vickroy said. "By no means does it mean we're not here to stay."

Finalizing the lease is the most recent step in a rebuilding process after the Mill Rats came close to folding after the 2023 season.

"I think just from going from all the uncertainties that we were facing at the end of last year, to now putting the final pieces of the puzzle together, is encouraging and getting everyone excited that it's right around the corner and we're getting ready for it," Mill Rats General Manager Sarah Rex said.

The effort has also included working to improve relations with the JCBL and the AAABA, which for many years were the stadium's only main baseball tenants.

"I think it was rocky at first" when the Mill Rats first arrived, Johnstown Recreation Director Tony Penna Jr. said. "I would say it's less rocky now. I think you're talking about three outstanding groups. I think more is better for the area. But, at the same time, I think everybody was used to having the facility whenever they needed it.

"I just think everybody sacrificed a little bit to bring more baseball to the area. I think this is a strong baseball town, and I think a little more baseball was not going to hurt anybody. I think it's much smoother now."

George Arcurio III, president of the Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association, which puts on the AAABA Tournament every August, expressed optimism about dealing with the local ownership group.

"I said there's a couple things that we could possibly do in getting together and working things out," Arcurio said. "Hopefully they can be successful, and we'll continue to try to be successful to keep the tournament in this town and hopefully help these guys out. That's where I'm at right now with them. It's all good. It seems like they're very progressive."