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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

NFL Combine organizer punts idea of Indy anniversary celebration

February 23, 2016
KEYWORDS Sports Business

The NFL Scouting Combine kicks-off its 30th year in Indianapolis this week, with move-in on Tuesday and on-field activities beginning Wednesday. But don’t expect event organizer Jeff Foster, who is based in Indianapolis, to break out a cake or party hat to commemorate the milestone.

Don’t get me wrong, Foster loves what the Combine does for his adopted hometown. But when it comes to the week of the event, he’s all business—as are the NFL team owners, executives and coaches who come here to scout 330 players readying for the upcoming draft.

“There’s nothing planned, no celebration that I know of, and we’re not asking for any,” Foster said. “It’s business as usual. It’s a really tight working schedule.”

Foster is surprised that not even local media outlets have brought up or asked about the 30th anniversary of the increasingly high-profile event here.

Indianapolis’ relatively low key approach to the NFL Combine, which will attract all 32 team owners and around 2,000 team and league personnel, is part of what makes the Circle City such a great host of the event, Foster said.

“People here are very friendly and hospitable, but they’re also respectful,” Foster said. “It’s part of what really makes it a great event here.”

One of the biggest changes since the event first came here in 1987 is the amount of media attention it draws, going from a handful of media covering the event 30 years ago to more than 1,000 credentialed media for the first time last year. And there’s no shortage of television coverage including 30 hours from the NFL Network and numerous hours of coverage from the likes of ESPN and other sports cable stations.

All that has cranked up football fans’ interest in the Combine. There is no shortage of people nationwide that want to get the scoop on the next generation of NFL stars. Despite that frenzy, Foster said, Indianapolis residents have more than kept themselves in check.

Yes, there are some football fans who hang around downtown hotels—especially the player host hotel—and the south end of the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oils stadium hoping for a glimpse of a famous player, coach or owner. But for the most part, Foster said, the NFL personnel and participants are left to do their jobs.

“Teams like to come here because they blend in and they can do their work,” Foster said. “It’s true to Indianapolis’ hospitality.”

Indianapolis last month signed a multi-year deal to keep the Combine in the city through 2020. The event will use all 1.2 million square feet in Lucas Oil Stadium and additional space in the Indiana Convention Center.
 

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