When did the Baltimore Colts become the Indianapolis Colts?
The Colts moved from Baltimore, MD to Indianapolis, IN on March 29, 1984. They left Baltimore in the middle of the night, roughly around 2:00 am. A move that not only did not make sense to us, but made Baltimoreans loathe the very existence of one Robert Irsay.
The feeling is not, however, reciprocal. The main NFL rivalry for the Colts is the New England Patriots. In January 2007, when the Colts faced the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Payoff game, Colts players expressed surprise at the angry reception they received from Baltimore fans.
The primary reason that the Irsay relocated to Indianapolis is because the city of Baltimore was engaged in a dispute with the Colts organization over the need for renovation to the team's playing facility, Memorial Stadium.
In 1969, the city of Maryland increased the rent over the Colts' stadium, despite the fact that the stadium was antiquated. A city stadium committee was created, which found the facility undersized for the needs of the team and fans, and was on the whole grossly inadequate for the needs of local sports teams and event planners. The situation drove then-owner Rosenbloom to rid himself of the team, selling it to Robert Irsay.
Irsay only bought the team partially based on a guarantee from city planners that a new stadium would be built for the Colts and Orioles. On different occasions, the state legislature, governor, and city comptroller blocked any progress on a new stadium. Over the next decade, Colts Irsay received a steady line of offers from Arizona, Memphis, LA, New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis to relocate. Irsay refused all of these offers.
In 1979, Baltimore broke ground for the long-delayed Owings Mills project. However, in January 1984, after 12 years of fighting over the promised stadium upgrades, Baltimore mayor stated outright, "We're not going to build a new stadium. We do not have the bonding capacity. We dont have the voters or taxpayer who can support a $60 million stadium. One-third of the people in Baltimore pay taxes. Unless private enterprise builds it, we won't build it."
At the same time, Indianapolis demonstrated a commitment to supporting a football franchise by starting construction on the Hoosier Dome, despite the fact that the city had no team to house. As tensions rose in Baltimore, the straw that broke the camel's back was when Maryland's legislature passed legislation that would allow the city of Baltimore to take the Colts away from Irsay. Faced with the choice of Indy's proven support to the mere prospect of housing a team, and Baltimore's twelve years of resistance and move to steal his team from him, Irsay left Baltimore.