NFL to seek bids from other cities to host Scouting Combine starting in 2023

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The NFL Scouting Combine in 2019 (IBJ file photo)

Indianapolis has hosted the annual National Football League  Scouting Combine for the past 34 years. That streak could end after next year.

In a communication to all 32 of the league’s teams Wednesday morning, the NFL said it is accepting bids from franchises that would like to host the five-day event for each year from 2023 to 2028, adopting a tactic similar to what it has done with the Super Bowl and more recently the NFL Draft.

Indianapolis has hosted the combine every year since 1987. Only the medical portion of the event was held in the city this year due to of league-imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

The media-saturated combine serves as job interview and medical evaluation process for 300 of the top college prospects ahead of the draft. The event has received growing media attention and TV coverage in recent years.

Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, told IBJ the tourism agency and other local planners plan to put in a “highly competitive, comprehensive bid” that would cover the next several years of the combine. Under the NFL’s bid rules, cities and franchises are permitted to bid on multiple years.

“As the event has grown, so has the city physically,” Gahl said. “This is an event that we have proudly hosted and helped grow along the way, and one we want to viciously protect keeping in Indy beyond 2022. In working with the Colts and local Combine team, Indy will put in another competitive bid to keep this annual event safe and sound in our city.”

Pete Ward, chief operating officer for the Indianapolis Colts, said the city could look to go after the event in future years.

“It’s a determination the city will need to make,” he said “We will be fully supportive if they decide to go for it.”

Indianapolis-based National Scouting Combine—the entity that sends out invitations to would-be participants—has generally overseen the showcase since its inception, but the NFL in recent years has taken more ownership of the event.

The event is slated to return to Indianapolis in 2022, which under the NFL’s current plan would be the last year Indianapolis is guaranteed to host the event.

The NFL did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Recent figures weren’t immediately available, but in 2019, local hospitality officials estimated the combine generated an economic impact of $8.4 million and provided up to $10 million in media exposure for the city. That included more than 100 hours of TV coverage on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, and from at least 1,400 credentialed media, the NFL’s second-highest count behind the Super Bowl.

A possible shift from Indianapolis began in 2019, when the NFL agreed to an extension to keep the event in place through 2021. It also agreed to four, one-year options allowing it to reevaluate the combine’s stay in Indianapolis on an annual basis.

The NFL’s move to open the combine up to a request for proposals followed months of negotiations with Visit Indy, the Colts and the Capital Improvement Board to keep the event in Indianapolis long-term. It also comes as new, massive stadium developments take shape in the league’s larger markets.

The NFL is also planning to accept bids for the NFL Draft for 2025 through at least 2028—an event Indianapolis officials have expressed interest in hosting in years past. Gahl said Visit Indy is “going through the vetting process to determine if and when the city will go after the draft,” alongside the city, the CIB, the Colts and the Indiana Sports Corp.

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12 thoughts on “NFL to seek bids from other cities to host Scouting Combine starting in 2023

    1. I can’t believe people get so hurt over kneeling during the national anthem. It’s such a stupid thing to get upset over. Leave that kind of nationalism to the communists over in China and North Korea.

    2. Why is it “stupid to get upset over,” Robert H? Professional athletes are some of the most privileged people in America who have benefited greatly from the opportunities America has afforded them, yet they are selfish ingrates when it comes to respecting The National Anthem.

  1. I would question the estimate that Indianapolis receives up to $10 million worth of exposure when the Combine occurs. Yes, there are some random print stories about a few of the more interesting aspects of our city, but rarely are there any television reports on anything outside of the stadium.

    1. I feel sorry for how naive you are. People like you and Neil are content with riding a dying horse in the race to the bottom – built on exaggerations, lies and malfeasance.

  2. Brent you are right. It seems like we just can’t get rid of the “party poopers.” The whole issue isn’t actual money but the prestige that this event brings. Indianapolis constantly gets ignored and put down by most of the press and national “in crowd” at every turn. So if they want to look elsewhere, good luck. Let them find out what the Big Ten found out; for important sports events its hard to beat Indianapolis. If you have been to most other cities they don’t do a good job. They throw a good party but functionally they do a poor job of centralizing everything and accommodating the actual job at hand.
    The other commenters here remind me of the people that poo pooed the whole idea of developing the downtown back in the eighties. They prefer Indianapolis the way it was prior to 1980 when it seemed that they really did roll up the streets at 5:00 every day. While the current Mayor hasn’t done anything positive for downtown in the last year at least he didn’t let it all get completely burnt up or totally overrun with homeless like some other cities. The damage done can be fixed.
    So let the NFL do what they want. It sometimes helps people to see what THEY MISS AND WISH THEY HAD MADE A BETTER DECISION.

    1. The fact that you prefer to whore out the city’s resources for the near exclusive benefit of the downtown area, at the expense of the community at large in order to be the equivalent of the proverbial ugly girl at the popular lunch table that the others make fun of lets me know how bankrupt your senses, and fragile your ego actually are.

      Traveling around the country, and world for that matter, an overwhelming majority of people do not discuss the sports atmosphere of Indianapolis’ downtown when it is brought up. Far less favorable things come to their minds, but in terms of sports, the 500 is by far the most popular subject outside of the Manning era. A sport independent of the downtown convention circus that you so questionably hold dear.

    2. Well Murray, that “whoring” as you call it supports more than 83,000 jobs in Indianapolis. What happens to all those people? Sports and conventions have transformed what was a dying city (remember when the pigeons owned Monument Circle?) into a destination city that attracted Salesforce, Infosys, and many other tech companies, making your city a growing hub with higher paying jobs. Success begets success Murray, and it doesn’t just benefit downtown.

  3. I can believe the economic impact numbers, the media exposure numbers not sure how you measure that. With Lucas Oil Stadiums proximity to hotels ,restaurants and medical facilities, I can’t see anyone else offering a total package as good as Indy.