Indianapolis has been the home of the NFL Scouting Combine for the past 34 years, but that run of hosting one of the league's marquee offseason events may be nearing its end. According to Mickey Shuey of the Indianapolis Business Journal, the NFL told all 32 of its teams on Wednesday morning that they will be accepting bids from any franchise that would like to host the event. Specifically, the first non-Indianapolis combine could be as early as 2023, as that is when Shuey reports the league is looking to make the change as they are receiving bids for that year and up to 2028.
The combine has been been in Indy since 1987 but has grown in prominence exponentially over that stretch of time. Now, the five-day event is a fully produced television spectacle for viewers at home to get a taste of NFL action during the doldrums of the offseason.
Of course, the main purpose of the combine is for clubs to get an up-close look at that year's draft prospects in what -- in its most basics terms -- is a job interview. Hundreds of the top college prospects have descended into Lucas Oil Stadium over the past few years and gone through medical evaluations, various drills, and oftentimes individual team interviews. A wrench was thrown into last year's combine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced only the medical portion of the event to be held in Indy.
On top of scouting some of the game's top prospects, the combine has grown into an offseason watering hole where trade discussion and potential free-agent pursuits often begin sprouting up through the rumor mill.
The NFL Scouting Combine also brings with it a boom to the local economy, which could be a driving force for the league to open it up across its franchises, allowing the opportunity for the game as a whole to reach an even bigger audience. Per Shuey, local hospitality officials estimated that the combine generated $8.4 million in economic impact in 2019 and up to $10 million in media exposure, so this is quite the boost to whatever city attempts to host it.
On top of the combine, the Business Journal reports that the NFL is also planning to accept bids for the NFL Draft for 2025 through at least 2028, which is a similar process to how the league handles Super Bowls.