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NFL Combine Notebook: Indianapolis Pushing To Keep Combine In 2025 And Beyond

The NFL Combine returned to Indianapolis in 2023 and will again in 2024, but nothing is guaranteed beyond that. 

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Chris Gahl, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Visit Indy, isn't naive. He knows the NFL Combine may be uprooted from Indianapolis – where it's been held with remarkable and critically-important efficiency for the last three and a half decades – in the coming years. Indianapolis is only guaranteed to host the NFL Combine through 2024.

But that doesn't mean Gahl and several high-profile Hoosiers – including Jim Irsay and the Indianapolis Colts' organization – aren't doing everything they can to keep the NFL Combine where it belongs.

"If you're really trying to inform your draft decision-making," Gahl said, "there is no better city."

Indianapolis last year fended off bids from Dallas and Los Angeles to earn hosting rights for the NFL Combine in 2023 and 2024. In 2022, so much of the chatter around the halls of the Indianapolis Convention Center and at bars and restaurants from Prime 47 to St. Elmo's to High Velocity was about how disappointed everyone would be if the NFL Combine were to leave here.

Indianapolis is well-equipped to host the NFL Combine by allowing all 32 teams the most productive, efficient process to gather information ahead of the NFL Draft. Players only have to travel five minutes from the Indianapolis Convention Center to an IU Health facility for medical imaging and testing, which is a critically-important aspect to the NFL Combine. Once they're under the convention center roof, they don't have to go outside again – their hotels are connected by sky bridges, and Lucas Oil Stadium is connected by a tunnel.

"It's nearly impossible to replicate the ease in which these prospects go through a battery of tests in a very short amount of time," Gahl said. "IU Health is the linchpin for Indianapolis hanging on to this. It has been and will be, and we put that first and foremost when we go out to retain this."

It's an ideal setup for players to be their best selves in front of 32 prospective employers; for the hordes of general managers, football operations staffers, coaches, medical and/or strength and conditioning personnel here, the compact nature of Indianapolis' NFL Combine setup allows for valuable time to be maximized to the fullest extent.

"If you subscribe to the idea of why the Combine exists, which is to look at prospects and inform your decision for the draft, that's really what you need to do is you need to have as much time in front of these prospects as possible," Gahl said. "And we make that easy and convenient."

Those are the biggest reasons and selling points for why Gahl and the city of Indianapolis are fighting to keep the NFL Combine here beyond 2024. But there's also something to be said for Indianapolis making the NFL Combine not only an important event, but a special one, too.

Debuting in 2023 is an interactive fan festival in the south lot of Lucas Oil Stadium, which features punt, pass and kick games, live music, concessions and an NFL exhibit brought in from Super Bowl LVII. Fans can also get an up-close look at on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, too. Learn how you can attend from March 2-5 by clicking here.

Beyond making the NFL Combine an interactive experience for fans, there's something special about seemingly the entire NFL universe existing in a five-block radius for an entire week.

A snapshot from Wednesday night spent along Maryland St.: An offensive coordinator walking east in the early evening. A high-profile assistant coach quietly eating alone at a restaurant bar. Another assistant coach having a lengthy conversation with a media member at a packed bar. A head coach walking through a hotel lobby while an All-Pro player in his own division holds court nearby.

The best way to put it: If you need to be somewhere in 30 minutes, give yourself an extra hour to get there, because chances are you're going to run into several friends you only see at the NFL Combine along the way.

Through the work of Gahl and several others, Indianapolis will fight to keep the NFL Combine here. And plenty of folks around downtown Indianapolis hope those efforts are successful.

"It feels right," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said. "It's the perfect setup in terms of how you can access everything down here so conveniently. 

"... It's the perfect spot for it. We'll see what the future holds but I'll take every year I can get here."

View photos from behind the scenes at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

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