As the years have gone on, the NFL has managed to successfully turn nearly every event on its calendar into must-watch content. That is true of the NFL Draft, certainly, and they’ve even made the release of schedules a major event. Arguably none matches the growth potential of the NFL Scouting Combine, which has been held in Indianapolis for the past 34 years, but which may soon be going on the road.
As the Indianapolis Business Journal reports, the league submitted a memo to teams yesterday informing them that they will begin accepting bids to host the event starting in 2022, and for each year individually through the 2028 season.
This is a similar approach to that which they have taken with the draft, which is now hosted by a different NFL city every year, and which will hopefully one day come to Pittsburgh, something in which the Steelers have expressed interest in the past. In theory, they could now also be in the running to host the Combine, if they would like, though an open stadium in the north in February may be a non-starter.
According to the IBJ’s Mickey Shuey, the league did first engage in negotiations with the Colts and the city about continuing to host the event for the long-term before the memo went out. He also noted that a number of teams are building or have already built new stadiums, which the league would want to exploit.
The NFL was able to get the Combine in last year before the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect. In 2021, however, only the medical portions of the event were held, with prospects instead relying on their Pro Days.
Indianapolis will host the Combine in 2022, and they intend to submit what Visit Indy vice president Chris Gahl called a “highly competitive, comprehensive bid”, according to Shuey, to keep the event in the city for at least the next several years.
But it certainly seems to me as though the NFL has every intention of taking the show on the road and not being beholden to one venue. I also believe that they have ambitions of continuing to turn the Combine into a bigger and bigger event, something they have moved toward in recent years with key changes in how it is run.
To their credit, Indianapolis and the Colts have, in my experience, done a wonderful job in hosting the event year after year, and I don’t imagine that there have been many complaints from teams about the logistics of how it has operated. It’s even centrally located. But I also have no doubt that many owners are eager for the opportunity for their stadium to host the event next.