From March 2-6, the city of Indianapolis was, once again, engulfed in NFL culture as the NFL Scouting Combine was hosted in Indiana for its 28th consecutive year.
With the Los Angeles Rams building a new stadium, which is set to open in 2019, they have not been shy about trying to steer the Combine towards the Golden State. However, Visit Indy has been doing whatever possible to keep this Nationwide event under the roof of Indianapolis.
In a recent article with the Indianapolis Star, Chris Gahl, a spokesman for Visit Indy was quoted stating, "We don't take this for granted, hosting the NFL combine,” and rightfully so. The combine brings people from all over the United States and even people all over the world.
This leads us right into the NFL Combine Experience. A project that was projected to bring in an extra $2 Million dollars of economic impact, helped fans get even closer to the players they watch on television.
The event included live spectating from inside Lucas Oil Stadium and plenty of other events from the Convention Center including:
The bench press area was strictly for viewing purposes. This is an event where rising athletes bench 225 pounds as many times as they can without stopping. No pictures or video was allowed due to the fact that this is a job interview for the Combine participates. Still, the atmosphere was electric with people cheering on their favorite athletes to see how many reps they could get.
Isaac Asiata from Utah and Carl Lawson from Auburn were the weekends top performers with 35 repetitions!
Combine Media Center
This is where top prospects get interview for the top media outlets. This area was closed off to the public but was available to be viewed from a distance. Non-the-less, it was still entertaining to be next right next to the live T.V. broadcasts.
The Combine Corner was a great way for visitors to test their skills against the top competition. The drills included the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, broad jump, and vertical jump. This was a great place for families to have friendly battles with each other!
The Gauntlet was packed with people from all ages. This is where you could catch NFL passes from JUGS Machines. There were four machines positioned in each corner, and the challenge was to stand in the middles spin around and catch passes from all four JUGS. People would challenge themselves by going with a “rapid fire” option where the passes would come out faster!
Vince Lombardi Trophy
This was a great event for local fans to get a picture next to the 2006 Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl trophy. Luckily, the sketched in words are hard to read from afar, so fans from all teams could get their picture taken with this iconic trophy.
This isn’t all the events provided, and the ability to participate in these drills, was absolutely free! All you had to do was download the NFL Fan Experience app on your smart phone, pick a time slot of up to two hours, and show up during that time.
NFL Autograph Stage
The NFL Autograph stage was an outstanding way to interact with NFL players, past and present. You could bring up items from the NFL Shop that was on location, or hats and footballs that you brought from home.
Being in Indianapolis, some Colts players that participated in the autograph stage included:
Philip Dorsett – Current Wide Receiver
Anthony Castonzo – Current Offensive Tackle
Dallas Clark – Former Pro Bowl Tight End
Jack Mewhort – Current Guard
Speaking with a couple people coming off the Autograph Stage after meeting Philip Dorsett, the excitement was definitely in the air.
While talking to people waiting in line to meet former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins Quarterback, Chad Pennington, the responses from the question, “Where are you from?” shocked me a little.
“Arizona, he’s from London” one reporter told me as he was waiting with a business colleague, taking a break from business to enjoy the festivities. The NFL really is a nation wide sport.
Also, signing at the Autograph Stage, former Notre Dame and Fort Wayne Bishop Luers High School standout, Jaylon Smith, was a part of the signing stage.
Overall, the NFL Fan Experience was a huge success. The revenue total is estimated to come in at about eight million dollars just for the NFL Combine, with an estimated two million dollars extra from the NFL Fan Experience.
The NFL Combine in contracted to the city of Indianapolis till 2020, and the fan experience is still likely to gain traction in the following years to come. This is a great step in keeping the NFL Combine in our city after the 2020 contract is up.