On Wednesday, the NFL sent its teams a memo explaining that yet another annual league event — the NFL Combine — will be moving from city to city beginning in 2023. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport obtained a copy.
“The League, in concert with the Combine Executive Committee, is considering ways to grow the Combine as a tentpole event, while at the same time enhancing the prospect experience and partnership,” the memo read.
The event will remain in Indianapolis — where it has been held since 1987 — through 2022. Teams — including the Kansas City Chiefs — will be able to submit competitive bids to host the 2023 Combine before July 23. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the city will fight for a chance to keep it.
Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy, told IBJ the tourism agency and other local planners plan to put in a “highly competitive, comprehensive bid” that would cover the next several years of the combine. Under the NFL’s bid rules, cities and franchises are permitted to bid on multiple years.
“As the event has grown, so has the city physically,” Gahl said. “This is an event that we have proudly hosted and helped grow along the way, and one we want to viciously protect keeping in Indy beyond 2022. In working with the Colts and local Combine team, Indy will put in another competitive bid to keep this annual event safe and sound in our city.”
Indianapolis officials said that the event has created a substantial economic impact.
In 2019, local hospitality officials estimated the combine generated an economic impact of $8.4 million and provided up to $10 million in media exposure for the city. That included more than 100 hours of TV coverage on NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, and from at least 1,400 credentialed media, the NFL’s second-highest count behind the Super Bowl.
Could the Chiefs go after the event?
Like Indianapolis, Kansas City is centrally located — which has long been thought to be one of the reasons Indianapolis has continued to host the Combine. But unlike the Colts, the Chiefs do not have a stadium with a roof, which allows the event’s on-field testing to be unaffected by weather. The Chiefs do, however, have a covered practice facility with a full-sized field. Whether that facility could accommodate the Combine’s specific needs is open to question — but the Chiefs could also explore the possibility of using other local indoor facilities for those parts of the five-day event.
So like the Super Bowl, hosting the Combine could end up being something that is limited to teams located in cities with consistently warm and sunny weather — or with covered stadiums. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see where it ends up.
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