It looks like there should be at least two more entries in the annual ‘Ed’s excellent adventure’ in Indianapolis series. That is because the NFL has granted the wish of nearly everyone connected to the Combine, except rival cities that wanted to host it, and decided to keep the event in Indianapolis for at least two more years.
Indianapolis has hosted the Combine, the biggest and most important event leading up to the NFL draft, since 1987. The NFL had put the Combine out for bid for the next two seasons, but ultimately decided to keep it right where it has been for 35 years.
“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,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business & League Events. “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.”
Fans were allowed inside Lucas Oil Stadium in 2022 to watch some of the on-field testing for the first time. Over the next two years, a new Combine fan experience for fans to enjoy outside the stadium will be added.
In March, I did a piece on Indianapolis’s effort to keep the Combine. Here are a couple of quotes from it:
“There’s a sense of pride that we’ve had the event here, and as the city has grown so has the event,” said Chris Gahl, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Visit Indy. “Not a month goes by, not a day goes by that we don’t think about and strategize and brainstorm about how to keep the Combine in Indianapolis and keep it growing ...
“Part of the ethos of Indianapolis is sports. We’re a city largely built on sports – amateur, professional. The combine is a fixture in our landscape,” Gahl said. “Each and every year our entire hospitality community, our entire city looks forward to welcoming the epicenter of the football world to Indy. We prepare for this event year-round.
“With the exception of the Indy 500 there’s not another event that has this staying power, 35 years, that is such a fixture in our community.”
“We understand what it takes to pull off a Combine. The convenience of our hotel packages where you can walk and you get in the sky bridges. They don’t have to get in a car during the course of the whole week while they’re here,” said JW Marriott General Manager Phil Ray. “I’ve been in the city for 18 years. I’ve been in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Dallas. There’s no other city that is able to do it as well as Indianapolis does.”
The 2023 Combine will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28 – Monday, March 6. The 2024 Combine will take place Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Monday, March 4.
I guess I had better make sure my calendar is clear.