Indy’s NFL Combine future uncertain

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The NFL Combine has called Indianapolis home for 31 years, but after 2020 it could leave Indy for a new host city. The Combine, once shrouded in secrecy, is now a major media event.

The event kicks off in Indianapolis on Friday, and while the fans aren’t here just yet, the setup is underway. The four-day event will make or break the careers of NFL hopefuls, all centered in Indianapolis.

“It [Indianapolis] works perfect for this event because everything is really self-contained,” said Carly Slivinski, a senior manager for the NFL events department.

Given that Indianapolis has been home to the Combine for 31 years, the city is making a hard play to keep the event.

“We’ve been in negotiations and discussions with them [the NFL] on how do we keep growing the Combine in Indy,” said Visit Indy’s Chris Gahl. “This is such a sought-after event. With 5,000 people descending on Indianapolis generating $8.4 million in economic impact [and] record-setting 1,400 credentialed media.”

Gahl says both L.A. and Dallas are pursuing the event hard, but the NFL isn’t saying which way it’s leaning.

“We’re focusing on building the event here in Indy for this year and the next year, and we are meeting with Visit Indy to talk about future years here as well,” said Slivinski, who does concede that a bigger venue will weigh on their decision.

“I think the shortcoming, and I don’t like to use that word,” said Slivinski. “We would love more space to do something, to really spread out.”

Gahl says parts of Lucas Oil Stadium and the convention center were designed specifically with the Combine in mind; just some of what Indy is relying on as part of the game plan to keep the Combine.

“Just because we’ve hosted it successfully since 1987 and grown it here in Indy, doesn’t mean we take it for granted,” said Gahl.

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