The Colts' move, clearly was something new and frightening: a team leaving home of three decades not for lack of support (the Colts had continued to attract large crowds in its last years in Baltimore), but solely for the lure of greater profits. "If the Colts can be moved that way," wrote the New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson following the team's midnight flight,"any other franchise area in any sport can wake up some morning to find itself without a team."
They were prophetic words. The Colts' move may have seemed an anomaly at the time, but in retrospect it was the dawn of a new era. In 1984, corporations large and small were learning as never before how to supplement profits by extorting money from their home towns under the threat of moving across the country or overseas. The sports industry may have come late to this game of "corporate welfare," as it came to be known, but it soon had adopted the tactic for its own. Whereas a manufacturing plant could win perhaps tens of millions of dollars this way, the final tab for a single sports subsidy could run as high as half a billion dollars.
The Colts' sudden move led to a series of events far beyond anything that could have been imagined that spring night. By the time the dust had settled, another football team had been taken from its diehard fans, and two cities had undertaken the building of four new stadiums, leaving taxpayers in two states to pay close to $1 billion in construction costs. The resulting transfer of public funds into private pockets would lay claim to public schools and fragile urban neighborhoods, leaving democratic checks and balances in shambles, and enrich a handful of owners - real-estate barons and wealthy industrialists - by hundreds of millions of dollars....The book Field of Schemes, which has a price of $19.95, can be ordered through this link.