For the first time ever, 10,000 fans will descend upon Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to witness the stars of the Scouting Combine up close.
After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, prospects officially take the field Thursday to participate in drills at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, marking the official return of the NFL’s second-largest annual event. And this year, to build on the groundwork laid down at the 2020 edition of the Combine, the league is making moves to bring fans closer to this next generation of stars.
For the first time ever the NFL and the Colts are bringing fans closer to the future NFLers by allowing 10,000 fans to sit in the lower section of Lucas Oil Stadium. In years past, fans have been admitted to the Combine, but were placed in the upper section of the stadium.
As drills begin today, all 10,000 tickets are sold out. There will be limited walk-up availability for fans who weren’t able to get their hands on one of the initial allotment.
Originally, it appeared that enhancing the fan experience component would be put on hold. The NFL planned to conduct the Combine inside a bubble, but after backlash from players and the threat of a boycott, the league backtracked to deliver what we’re now seeing play out this week.
A leading showcase for the increased focus on fan engagement is the bench press. In previous years, the Combine tradition was stationed such that the only spectators were fellow prospects and officials supervising various drills. Now, the league has brought sets of bleachers to the event for fans to watch the prospects push the bar:
As Chris Gahl, Vice President of Visit Indy, told the Indianapolis Business Journal of these advancements:
“Traditionally, out of design, fans have not been able to get this close to the action, so to be able to sit within feet of future stars headed to the NFL is extremely unique and is an experience that can only be found in Indianapolis. We know millions of people will be tuning in on national TV, but only Indianapolis residents and visitors can step inside Lucas Oil Stadium and sit extremely close to the action to see their favorite college athletes.”
The seven days of the NFL Combine will reportedly bring in $10 million for the city, according to Visit Indy. That same money may be on the move next year, however, as the NFL has opened up the opportunity for additional cities and individual teams to bid on the right to host future editions of the event. The three finalists for next year’s combine are Indianapolis, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
With this in mind, we could be looking at Indianapolis’ last chance to impress league officials and keep the Combine in the Hoosier State. They’ll have every chance to do so with 10,000 strong brining an extra dose of energy to the proceedings at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The NFL did not respond to requests for additional comment on this story.