Arena football, wrestling events, monster truck shows, horse shows, and BMX racing. For anyone who hasn’t visited recently, the slate of events coming to the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds might be hard to believe. While the site has long been home to Ozark Empire Fair, trade shows and events, the vision of fairgrounds CEO Aaron Owen casts a larger spotlight over the property.
“We can handle any kind of convention event or festival you can have,” Owen says. “It’s kind of a dream come true.”
The most visible addition to the fairgrounds comes in the form of a new arena, soon to be home to Springfield’s new football team, the Ozarks Lunkers, that will be part of a new Arena League set to begin play in 2024. The new multi-purpose facility, which replaces the old livestock arena, will seat around 4,500 fans.
“Bringing affordable professional football to Springfield will be a great addition to our community and the region,” says Lunkers owner Mark Burgess. “Getting to play our first game in a brand new arena will be fantastic.”
“It’s a very interactive setup,” Owen adds.
“You’re right by the players. Plus, this is gonna be something exciting that keeps football going all year long. They’ll start late May, early June, roll into August, and finish up just in time for the regular football season to start.”
In addition to football, the 2024 schedule already holds a variety of events, including BMX racing, which Owen says will be “huge for Springfield.” He adds that the slate offers a lot of diversified interest as well as economic impact interest.