The billionaire owner of the NFL's Rams, which won official approval on Tuesday to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, reportedly wants to wrest the league's annual Scouting Combine from Indianapolis, which has hosted it annually since 1987.
The development with the Rams comes as local officials have attempted to nail down a five-year deal to keep the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
As part of his team's plans to move to L.A., Rams' owner Stan Kroenke has committed to building a $1.9 billion stadium in Inglewood, California, that would open in 2019. Multiple media reports have said that Kroenke's proposal for the stadium has mentioned the Combine as just one major league event it could host.
"The roof over the stadium would allow the NFL to move events such as the Pro Bowl, NFL Combine and other annual events to the NFL campus as well," according to one widely quoted section from the report.
Officials from the NFL and Indianapolis-based National Football Scouting, which runs the event, were not available for comment Wednesday morning. Indianapolis Colts and Visit Indy officials did not return calls seeking comment. But local officials have said in the past the event is an economic driver for the city.
One of the city’s biggest selling points in holding on to the Combine is the compact and connective nature of the city’s downtown. But Kroenke’s proposed stadium also features connected areas including retail, hotel and meeting space.
And as one of the wealthiest NFL team owners, Kroenke, who also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, has plenty of clout to win events like the Combine and Super Bowl, league sources told IBJ on Wednesday.
Indianapolis hosted the 2012 Super Bowl and had hoped to host another. Now city officials will have another huge competitor for the big game.
Perhaps an even bigger risk is losing the NFL Combine, which Indianapolis has hosted here—each February—since 1987. The Combine has turned into a major media event with every national sports-radio and TV station covering it, as well as myriad general interest news organizations.
The event has an $8.27 million economic impact, according to Visit Indy, but city officials think the impact could be greater due to the media exposure it brings the city and its downtown.
The city has hosted the event on a year-to-year basis, but local officials said during last year’s Combine they were working on a long-term deal to keep the event at Lucas Oil Stadium.