INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL Scouting Combine is returning to town for a 36th and 37th year.
The league announced Tuesday one of its cornerstone events will spend 2023 and 2024 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Combine has been a fixture in Indy since 1987.
“After close review by our internal team, the Fan Engagement & Major Events Advisory Committee, and the National Invitational Camp staff, Indianapolis remains the best city to host and grow the NFL Combine in 2023 and 2024,” Peter O’Reilly, NFL executive vice president of Club Business & League Events, said in a press release. “Indy’s vision brings together its long legacy of successfully hosting the Combine and executing the evaluation process, with an exciting focus on innovating and further growing the event from a fan and media perspective.
The 2023 NFL Combine will take place February 28 – March 6. The 2024 event will be held February 27 – March 4.
Each February, 300-plus draft-eligible players along with thousands of NFL types – general managers, head coaches, assistants, scouts, medical personnel – converge on Indy for a critical step in player evaluation for the April draft.
Increased popularity and marketing possibilities have led to interest from other cities to host the event, similar to how the NFL has treated the annual draft. After several years of deliberation, the league opened bidding earlier this year to teams wanting to host the Combine, and three were asked to submit formal bids: Indy, Dallas and Los Angeles.
There was speculation Dallas or L.A. would be awarded the ’23 Combine, but it was decided to leave the event in Indy the next couple of years.
“We’re not surprised that after years of other cities wanting to host the Combine the NFL put out a request for other cities interested in hosting,’’ Chris Gahl, senior vice president of Visit Indy, said earlier this year. “We know there’s not a city in the U.S. that wouldn’t want to host the NFL Scouting Combine because it is attaching into the NFL brand.
“But there’s not a day goes by we’re not thinking about and strategizing about keeping the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.’’
The Combine is one of the bigger events for the city. Visit Indy projects a financial impact of approximately $10 million.
The Indianapolis Colts have long lobbied for the NFL to keep the Combine in Indy, despite the interest from other cities. Owner Jim Irsay has compared it to the league allowing the Detroit Lions being allowed to host a Thanksgiving Day game every season.
In February, general manager Chris Ballard echoed the sentiments of many of his colleagues. He praised the operational process put in place of Jeff Foster, president of the locally-based National Football Scouting, Inc., and his staff.
“They do a tremendous job navigating both what the NFL wants, what our fans need and this growing event of the Combine,’’ Ballard said. “We’ll see what the future holds, but I would be hard-pressed to find a city that does it any better.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.
Joe Hopkins contributed to this story.