INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The possibility of the NFL Scouting Combine relocating to the Los Angeles area as soon as 2018 was news to Jeff Foster.
The president of the locally-based National Football Scouting Inc., which runs the annual Combine, was informed of a report regarding the possible relocation during a break in a Wednesday meeting in Florida with 21 NFL general managers.
League officials reportedly are considering moving the event to the West Coast to maximize its popularity and revenue by telecasting most events in prime time.
“To my knowledge, they are not looking,’’ Foster said.
More to the point, Foster insisted the Combine is tied to Indy at least through 2019.
“I have a signed contract with the city of Indianapolis that is committed through 2019 and holds dates through 2020,’’ he said. “I guess you can default on a contract with penalties, but to my knowledge the Combine in going to be in Indy in in 2018 and ’19.’’
The 2018 Combine is on the books for Feb. 26-March 5 while the ’19 Combine is scheduled for Feb. 25-March 4.
“I personally am moving forward with the understanding we are holding the Combine in Indianapolis in 2018 and 2019, and from my perspective, for the next 30 years,’’ Foster said.
The Combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987.
“There’s a reason we’ve been here for 31 years,’’ Foster said. “It works for everyone involved.’’
Speculation of the Combine moving to the Los Angeles area has intensified as the NFL returned to the market with the return of the Rams. The ultimate destination undoubtedly would be the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, which is scheduled to open in time for the 2020 season.
Foster understands the NFL’s desire to maximize the marketing value of the Combine. In February, nearly 2,000 team officials and more than 1,000 members of the media were on hand to evaluate and cover approximately 300 draft-eligible players.
NFL Network has continually increased its coverage.
But Foster extols the value of Indy hosting the Combine. Lucas Oil Stadium serves as the hub and IU Health offers expert, convenient medical services.
“I love the fact the NFL has created a marketing aspect around the Combine,’’ he said. “But we’ve got to find the right balance between the goals and objectives of the marketing aspect and the goals and objectives that have always been there for the clubs.
“The event is too valuable to the clubs to interfere with the integrity of the football and medical event.’’
In the end, team owners likely will have the final say.
“What I told the 21 GMs today was you guys decide what you need from a medical and football perspective and then you tell your owners and let the owners make the decision,’’ Foster said. “If they feel the marketing aspect of the event is more important, that’s why they’re the owners.
“It’s a topic for the owners, but football is first. We have to protect the integrity of the football event, and build the marketing around that. That’s what we’ve tried to do for the last 8 to 10 years.’’