In 1983, when relations with the city of Baltimore and then-owner Robert Irsay were strained, the mayor approved $15 million dollars to be put forth to renovate the Colts home, Memorial Stadium.
Irsay was thinking bigger, he wanted a new stadium with luxury boxes and better seating. It was during this time that Indianapolis developers were lobbying the NFL for an expansion team to fill their newly constructed RCA Dome.
Even though Irsay vehemently denied shopping the team around, plans leaked out that he visited the RCA Dome on several occasions.
When the news reached Baltimore, the Maryland legislature was moving to seize ownership of the Colts by eminent domain.
The city of Indianapolis, upon hearing the news, offered the Colts a $12,500,000 million loan, $4,000,000 training complex and use of the $77.5 million, 57,980 seat RCA dome.
Robert Irsay stated the move was a "direct result" of the eminent domain bill. team council Michael Chirnoff said "They not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked, 'Want to see if it's loaded?"
After Irsay agreed to the deal, the Indianapolis Mayor called John B. Smith, his friend, neighbor and chief executive officer of Mayflower Transit, and 15 trucks were dispatched to the team's Owings Mills, Maryland training complex at 2:00 AM on March 29 because it was feared the franchise would be seized early the following morning.
Workers loaded all of the team's belongings and the trucks left for Indianapolis. By 10:00 AM, the Colts were completely gone from Baltimore. Each of the Mayflower trucks took a slightly different route on the way to Indianapolis.
This was done to confuse the Maryland police, who could've been called on to put a stop to the move. Once each van was at the Indiana state line, it was met by Indiana state troopers, who escorted each van to the Colts new home in Indianapolis. Talk about a dagger to the heart.
Final Verdict: Baltimore was ready to give the Colts everything only to have their team taken away in the middle of the night.
Imagine waking up on Christmas Day, walking downstairs and realizing you had been robbed while you slept. That is the pain Baltimore lives with to this day.