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Tawnie Wilson | SBJ

12 People You Need to Know in 2024: Mark Burgess

The Flying Sportsman

Posted online

Springfield businessperson Mark Burgess is looking to make a splash in 2024 with his latest venture.

Burgess is the owner of the Ozarks Lunkers, The Arena League football team that begins play in June 2024 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds’ Wilson Logistics Arena.

The Lunkers – referring to a fish that’s exceptionally large for its kind – will add a family-friendly entertainment option to the Queen City, especially for sports fans, Burgess says, that’s less expensive than visiting Kansas City or St. Louis for similar offerings.

“If you want to see a Chiefs game over the weekend, you’re going to have to take a mortgage out on your house,” he says, making the case for a local sports attraction. “Not only does that add to the revenue base here in Springfield, but it’s just another thing that Springfield can lay claim to fame to.”

When summer arrives, Burgess says fans can expect a high-paced football experience. Teams will have six players apiece – including Matt Rush, the first to sign with the Lunkers – and rule changes from standard football by The Arena League are designed around speed.

“It’s a lot more activity, a lot more action,” he says. “The field boxes that we’re selling for people to sit in are right on the edge of the field – so it’s like being in a hockey rink.”

Myriad sponsorship opportunities are available for businesses, he notes.

“There’s a thousand different ways to get involved,” Burgess says, pointing to additional business offerings such as the corporate field boxes.

Speaking in December 2023, Burgess indicated the team had taken deposits on around 15% of available season tickets.

“We think we’ll sell out pretty quickly,” he says.

The Lunkers are only the latest venture for the serial entrepreneur.

A career pilot, Burgess’ OzAir Charter Services jet charter company is in growth mode, as well.

OzAir, which was founded in 2007 and now has nine aircraft and 22 pilots, is the largest private tenant of Springfield-Branson National Airport.

OzAir is in the midst of expanding its international offerings, Burgess says, noting the company currently has service to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“Our next goal is to get operations going to Europe and possibly to Hawaii,” he says, adding a hope of completing the process in a “reasonable period of time,” dependent on the Federal Aviation Administration. “It’s just a matter of going through all the certification procedures and processes.”

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