As an expanded version of the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off its second year in downtown Indianapolis, tourism officials expect the impact to continue to grow. The prospective player evaluation event has been held in the city for more than 30 years and Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl says it now delivers an economic impact of $10 million — two times more than a decade ago. Previously, the Combine was open only to invited players, coaches and personnel. The 2017 event — through the free NFL Combine Experience — began incorporating more fan-friendly aspects at the Indiana Convention Center. It also offers limited fan access to Lucas Oil Stadium, where the tightly-controlled testing takes place.
Under contract in Indianapolis through 2020, Gahl says the Combine is becoming a draw outside of the professional coaching and playing circles. "It’s turned into a more Super Bowl-esque — kind of a Draft-esque party with the NFL elite and brass coming in and not only watching the field activity, but entertaining perspective clients and customers and sponsors in and around the city," he told Inside INdiana Business Multimedia Journalist Mary-Rachel Redman, "It’s really a destination for the NFL now, rather than just really a Combine for the athletes and a handful of the owners and media, so — in a good way — the NFL has spread its wings in Indianapolis and as a city, that’s beneficial. As a city, it helps showcase our capabilities."
Gahl says his organization and city leaders don’t take the Combine for granted and they must continue to "re-imagine" how it’s handled throughout its evolution. He adds other cities "are viciously competing" for rights to the event and he is confident Indy has what it takes to lock down the event for an even longer term.