Gahl: Indy ‘always on audition’ to host NFL Combine
The NFL has wrapped up its annual Scouting Combine in downtown Indianapolis, which has played host to the event since 1987. But for how long will the combine stay in Indy? This year was the first that the event was put to a bidding process for host cities.
While Indianapolis will host the combine again next year, Visit Indy Chief Marketing Officer Chris Gahl said the city continues to audition as representatives from other cities look to land the event.
Gahl talked about the city’s efforts in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“We know Phoenix and LA and Dallas and Detroit, maybe, they’re here. They’re kicking the tires. They’re seeing the footprint,” he said. “No other city has hosted it, so they’ve got to cite the city and meet with the NFL. And so we know that happens frequently.”
Gahl said city officials are aware of the increasing pressure from other potential host cities.
“It’s also well known that this could be at some point circulated other major cities like they do with the draft, like they do with the Pro Bowl and also the Super Bowl. This has become a fan facing big deal for cities and franchises who who really want this event.”
The city, according to Gahl, continues to pitch the efficiency of hosting the combine by having everything the league needs, including the stadium, the Indiana Convention Center, and hotels, all within a short distance of each other.
But the key to Indiana’s pitch is the partnership with Indiana University Health to conduct all the necessary testing of the prospective players.
“These prospects, these 300 college athletes can quickly get through a battery of tests very efficiently and get back down,” said Gahl. “So that is something that’s hard to replicate in other major cities when everything is within walking distance and under essentially one roof.”
The combine is expected to generate $10 million in economic impact for the city. As for the the future of the event in Indy, Gahl said the decision on the host city for 2025 should be known by May.
But officials aren’t only looking to keep the combine in the Circle City. Much interest has been generated in bringing the NFL Draft to Indy.
In January, Indiana Sports Corp President Patrick Talty told IIB the city has put in a letter of interest to potentially host the draft in future years, with a particular eye on 2027 or into the 2030s.
Gahl said they plan to have a better idea in the coming years.
“I’d say in the next 36 months or so, we should have word on a future year, once the [convention center] expansion is open and we have more hotels,” he said. “We’ll be anxious to see if we can land the draft, which is something that the Sports Corp has long wanted, we long want, and we believe we can pull it off. So can we host the combine and the draft simultaneously? To be determined, but we know we can do both exceptionally well.”