The Indianapolis area is getting ready for a major National Football League event, the annual scouting combine. But will Indianapolis retain the yearly “the probable draftees looking great in t-shirts and shorts show” beyond 2020? That is an open question. The National Football League has been staging the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis since 1987. The NFL and Indianapolis officials signed a five year agreement in 2016 to stay in the city, but just three of those years, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were guaranteed. The league had an option to put the combine elsewhere this year and could do so in 2020. The event seems to bring money into Indianapolis although Indianapolis officials have never publicly discussed the actual details of the NFL agreement and what Indianapolis is paying the NFL. Indianapolis is also touting “well the event gives us free publicity and people might come to Indianapolis because of that card”. It should be noted that for decades the Indianapolis 500 was a premiere event that brought people to Indianapolis and gave the city enormous exposure globally. Today the Indy 500 is just another car race although people do flock out to Indianapolis on Memorial Day weekend.
The NFL liked Indianapolis for a number of reasons including a cluster of hotels near the stadium where the combine takes places. The NFL’s travel party includes 32 teams, league officials and, of course, the 300 or so players who audition for scouts. But Indianapolis is not a glamour city like Los Angeles or Las Vegas. The NFL could easily shift the talent show there. There are new stadiums there and they will be available although the LA based combine would be in Inglewood and hotel rooms would not be nearby. Money will play into the equation, whomever gives the NFL the best deal will get the talent competition.