Why Did the Colts Leave Baltimore | Famous NFL Stories

Why Did the Colts Leave Baltimore | Famous NFL Stories

 The Colts were one of the most successful teams in the NFL in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They won back-to-back NFL championships in 1958 and 1959, and they appeared in three more NFL championship games in the 1960s. 

But despite their on-field success, the Colts were struggling financially. In 1971, the team’s owner, Robert Irsay, announced that the Colts would move to Indianapolis. The move was met with outrage in Baltimore, and the Colts could never recapture their success in their early years.

It was a surprising and sudden move that shocked the NFL world. In 1984, the Indianapolis Colts packed their bags and moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis. It was a decision that left many fans in Baltimore heartbroken.

In this article, we’ll look at the story of how the Colts left Baltimore and became one of the most successful teams in the NFL.


Football games are typically played on Sunday afternoons, but on March 29, 1984, all eyes were on a federal courtroom in Baltimore.

One of the most famous sports stories in history is the story of how the Baltimore Colts left Baltimore. In the history of the NFL, there’s no team whose move was more controversial than the Colts’ move to Indianapolis.

The Colts’ decision to move to Indiana was so controversial that it even led to the creation of the word “Irsay” as a term for a person who makes a decision that’s harmful to the team they’re supposed to represent.

Their move has become part of the lexicon, and it’s often cited as an example of a sports franchise making the wrong decision.

The Colts organization was created in 1953 when the NFL awarded a franchise to Baltimore. Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, played for the Colts from 1998 to 2011.

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The Colts’ Early Success

In 1953, the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) decided to merge with the NFL. This meant that there was one fewer spot available in the league.

The owners of the Baltimore Colts, a team that had played in the AAFC since 1947, decided to apply for the vacant spot in the NFL. The Colts were one of two teams (along with the New York Giants) invited to join the NFL.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Colts were one of the most successful teams in the NFL. They won back-to-back NFL championships in 1958 and 1959, and they appeared in three more NFL championship games in the 1960s.

The Phoenix Metropolitan Sports Foundation, a group trying to bring an NFL team to Phoenix, Arizona, made an offer to the Colts in 1971. Robert Irsay, the Colts owner, was interested in the offer.

On-Field Success

While the pro football team was one of the most successful on the field, they struggled financially.

The team’s owner, Robert Irsay, was spending a lot of money on the team and wasn’t making much money in return. In 1971, the NFL granted Irsay a loan so that he could improve the team’s stadium in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, Irsay never paid the loan back. At the same time, Irsay was struggling financially. He could not sell shares in the team’s stock because it wasn’t listed on a stock exchange. Irsay’s financial problems led him to decide to move the team to Indianapolis, Indiana.

Colts counsel Michael Chernoff says that Irsay’s decision to move the team was based on financial stability and fan support.

Reasons Why The Colts Left Baltimore

Baltimore Colts Fans were among the most loyal in NFL history. They supported their team through thick and thin, but they could never forgive the football team for moving to Indianapolis.

So why did the Colts leave Baltimore? There are a few reasons.

The Colts Were Unhappy With The Condition Of Memorial Stadium

First, the Colts were unhappy with the condition of Memorial Stadium. The stadium was old and needed significant repairs. The team also felt that they weren't getting enough support from the city of Baltimore.

They believed that a move to Indianapolis would give them a better chance to succeed. Both the Colts and Baltimore Ravens played in Memorial Stadium before the Ravens moved to their stadium.

Robert Irsay Was Not On Good Terms With Maryland Politicians

In addition, the Colts owner, Robert Irsay, was not on good terms with Maryland politicians. He had unsuccessfully tried to get public funding to help repair Memorial Stadium. When it became clear that he wouldn't get the money he wanted, he decided to move the team.

The move was not popular with everyone. Many fans in Baltimore were devastated by the news. The city tried to sue the Colts but could not stop the team from moving.

The Colts have been in Indianapolis ever since. They've had some success, winning a Super Bowl in 2006. But they've also had some tough times, including a 2-14 season in 2011.

why the colts left baltimore

Financial Struggles

NFL franchise tends to move when they are struggling financially. The Baltimore Colts is one of the famous examples where the team had to leave their city for financial reasons.

The main reason why the Colts left Baltimore was because of financial struggles. The team’s owner, Robert Irsay, was spending a lot of money on the team and wasn’t making much money in return.

In addition, the team was struggling to sell shares in their stock because it wasn’t listed on a stock exchange. These financial problems led Irsay to decide to move the team to Indianapolis. The Colts franchise has been in Indianapolis ever since.

The Move To Indianapolis

Robert Irsay held a press conference on March 28, 1984, to announce the details of the team’s move to Indianapolis. Many people were shocked by Irsay’s decision to move the team.

Not only was it the middle of the season, but it was also the day after the city of Baltimore had celebrated the fact that the Colts had won their playoff game the previous day. The most controversial part of the move was that Irsay said Baltimore wasn’t a good city for football anymore.

Irsay’s decision to move the team to Indianapolis was met with outrage in Baltimore. Some fans burned Irsay in effigy, and others even tried to stop the moving trucks from taking the team’s equipment to their new home.

The fans’ reaction to the move led to a change in the language. Previously, a person who made a harmful decision to the team they were supposed to represent was described as a “traitor.” Following the Colts’ move, that person became an “Irsay.”

Reaction In Baltimore

While the fans were upset about the move, the city of Baltimore took it as a personal slight. The move was so controversial that it caused the city of Baltimore to change its laws. Before the Colts’ move, it was illegal for the city to give money to a sports team.

After the Colts’ move, Baltimore amended that law so that they could offer the Colts money to stay. The city offered the Colts $12 million for the team and proposed a new stadium, but Irsay turned the offer down. The city of Baltimore also changed the law so they could seize any property that the team owned.

The city took over the team’s training facility and threatened to change the stadium's name, so it didn’t include the word “Colts.” Baltimore also offered Irsay the option of moving the team back to Baltimore. When the city changed the law, it led to confusion. The city tried to seize the team’s practice facility, but the field owner refused to let them take it.

When the city tried to take the team’s flight simulator, they discovered that it wasn’t owned by the team but by a private engineer who had built it while working for the team. The city’s decision to change the law led to a lawsuit.

The owner of the team’s flight simulator filed the lawsuit, who argued that he had an exclusive contract with the city and that they couldn’t break it just because they wanted to. The lawsuit was thrown out of court, and the city kept the flight simulator.


The Colts’ Later Success

Though the city of Baltimore may have taken too much (and illegal) action, the fans were eventually rewarded for their efforts. Even though the city of Baltimore could not keep the team, the fans ultimately succeeded in keeping the Colts in the state of Maryland.

The Colts' move to Indianapolis was not a financial success, and the franchise struggled for most of the 1980s. In 1984, the city of Indianapolis tried to purchase the team from Irsay, but he turned down their offer. In 1989, Irsay put the team up for sale, but no one made an acceptable offer for it.

In 1997, team president Bill Polian decided to try to buy the franchise. His efforts were successful, and he became the team's new owner. Under Polian’s leadership, the team came back to prominence. In 1999, the Colts won the Super Bowl, and they have since been one of the best teams in the NFL.


The Colts' move to Indianapolis was one of the most controversial moves in sports history. The city of Baltimore was so mad at the move that they even changed the law so that they could take the team’s flight simulator.

But the move had a significant impact on the city of Indianapolis. The city used the Colts’ move to show they were serious about being a football city. The Colts' move to Indianapolis may have angered the city of Baltimore, but it helped Indianapolis become a football city.

Despite the ups and downs, the Colts are now firmly entrenched in Indianapolis. And for better or worse, Baltimore is now without an NFL team.

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