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Caleb Scott is general manager of the Ozarks Lunkers, The Arena League football team debuting this summer.
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
Caleb Scott is general manager of the Ozarks Lunkers, The Arena League football team debuting this summer.

Executive Insider: Caleb Scott

 Ozarks Lunkers GM readies for football team’s inaugural season

Posted online

The most recent NFL season wrapped up just like the prior one, with the Kansas City Chiefs being crowned as Super Bowl champions. But roughly 170 miles south, a new football team is less than three months from its debut season that officials hope will bring some gridiron excitement to the Queen City.

Helping lead the charge for the Ozarks Lunkers, one of four teams in the first season of The Arena League, is general manager Caleb Scott. The 32-year-old was hired in August by Lunkers owner Mark Burgess to help shape the future of the organization. The other teams set to begin play in June are in Kansas City; Waterloo, Iowa; and Duluth, Minnesota. League expansion is expected in future seasons, according to officials.

On a recent March afternoon at Wilson Logistics Arena, where the Lunkers will debut June 1 – one of four home games of its eight-game regular season schedule – Scott spoke about his new job, which he says changes day to day.

“It’s sales heavy right now, and not even just sales, but just market education because we haven’t had this before,” he says of the new indoor six-on-six football league. “Even the idea of arena football is so new. Just being in spaces with people and business leaders in the community to explain what this is, to get them excited about it – that’s probably the No. 1 thing I do.”

Lunkers officials last month said around 40 local businesses have purchased sponsorships, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Scott says he’s been in discussions with dozens of other businesses, adding he could see adding another 20-30 sponsors before the season launch.

“There’s a lot of things that we’ve been able to capitalize on, whether it be a brand-new league, a brand-new team, a brand-new arena,” he says. “We’re very fortunate to have things like that.”

Scott says selling advertising and corporate partnerships has been a fun part of the job.

“I get to go in and explain something that’s not been done before,” he says.

His work also entails helping build out the team’s promotional calendar and peripheral entertainment on game days. Scott says the Lunkers are working with the Discovery Center of Springfield Inc., as well as entertainment company Princesses of the 417, which makes appearances as costumed characters.

“We’re talking about a pregame tailgate party where we bring live bands out and people can come hang out,” he says. “It’s the summertime, you know what I mean? No other football’s being played.”

Most tickets at the 6,500-seat arena range $15-$40 with VIP tickets priced at $50, according to the team website. The average ticket price for a Kansas City Chiefs game this past season was $132, according to market research firm Statista.

“The two things I tell all the time is proximity and affordability,” Scott said, adding attending NFL games such as the Chiefs also includes costs for parking, refreshments and transportation. “You do all sorts of stuff to give your kids or your family this experience, and it breaks the bank.”

Football management isn’t new to Scott, who picked up experience organizing and running a football team through his ownership of the Queen City Insane Asylum semipro squad. He first played for a semipro, eight-man arena football team in Joplin.

“I learned the rules and I learned kind of how you could do it on a smaller scale,” he says, adding he eventually tired of the drive to and from Joplin and began playing for a year in Springfield before thinking his football career had run its course. 

At the suggestion of a teammate, he decided to start the Queen City team.

“Around 70 people came out to try out for an eight-man team, and I was blown away,” he says, noting the team started play in March 2020 right around the time the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Not the best time to have a full-contact sport,” he says, adding the team continued to play until 2023. “We didn’t have an annual budget. We would pay for our stadium liability insurance. Our players would pay about $250 for the season to play for us, and then we would cover the jerseys, the field rental. We paid for refs, paid for a livestream and paid for the stadium use. Anything left over, you put back into the program for T-shirts or gear or anything like that.”

The highest game attendance was around 800 people, but Scott says the team had over 12,000 followers on Facebook. He says the experience taught him to be “creative and adaptable.”

That football experience got him on the radar of Burgess, who also operates Burgess Aircraft Management LLC, dba OzAir Charter Service.

“I sat down with Mark, and within the first 10 minutes, I knew the right person was in charge,” Scott says, adding he shuttered his semipro team after taking the job. “He is just so dynamic in his business acumen. He’s just one of the kindest, most genuine men I’ve ever met.”

Burgess says Scott has a lot of energy and loves every aspect of football – traits that serve him well in his new role.

“He knows everybody in this area that knows anything about local football talent. The fact that he was basically in love with the sport and had knowledge of a lot of the assets we needed to have knowledge of, that was probably the biggest thing that he brought to the table,” he says. “Plus, he’s got a big personality. He speaks well, he understands what we’re trying to sell and understands what we’re trying to build.”

Games will be played on a 50-yard indoor field with team rosters of 15 players for six-on-six matchups. Players take snaps on both offense and defense, and games are designed to be fast paced with a quick play clock and no huddles, according to the league website. Scott says the team has signed 17 players and plans to bring 21 to training camp in May.

“The biggest thing we need is to be able to explain to people what we are, who we are and what this is,” Burgess says. “(Caleb) does that very well because he’s played it.”

Aside from the Lunkers, Scott is juggling other professional and personal responsibilities. He’s been a real estate agent for the past two years with Murney Associates, Realtors, and is a father to 3-year-old son Cohen.

“Out of everything I’ve ever done in my entire life, and I’ve done some cool stuff by 32, but being a father has far exceeded anything I’ve ever done by a million miles,” he says, noting his jobs allow him to still be present for his son.

Fatherhood also is the focus of his Better Dad Co. podcast he started in 2022. He’s recorded 15 episodes to date.

“My podcast is just episodes of me learning each and every week about being a dad and how to be better at it. Not better than anyone else, just better every day,” he says.

Away from work, Scott says he’s active in Hill City Church but laughs off a question about what he pursues as hobbies and interests.

“Honestly, it’s whatever my son’s doing,” he says.

As the season kickoff approaches, Scott’s energy is palpable.

“I’m so excited, man. I’m learning as a man in business how to delegate things. I am a control freak sometimes,” he says. “I want to do it all, but it’s been such a blessing to have a team that is better than I am.”


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