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The Story of the Sidekicks

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On May 19, 1983, Norm Sonju spoke to Bill Brenner, President of Meadowlands Soccer, Inc. about the possibility of buying the Rockets franchise out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Owned by MISL co-founder Ed Tepper, the Rockets played only one season at the Brandon Byrne Arena (now the Continental Airlines Center) in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Finishing the 1981-82 season 4th in the Eastern Division with a 17-27 record, and out of the playoffs, the club folded. The Rockets filed for bankruptcy on June 14, 1982.


The title page of the Rockets bankruptcy filing

Representatives of Meadowlands Soccer, Inc. originally asked $750,000 for the bankrupt franchise. After a month of negotiations, the two parties finally settled on a price of $500,000. Pending the approval of the Bankruptcy Court, an application was mailed to the MISL offices by the Mavericks to transfer ownership of the Rockets (along with a $250,000 letter of credit) on June 23, 1983.

Now all that stood between the city of Dallas and it's indoor soccer club was the approval of the MISL Board of Governors. During the 1983 league meetings, the Governors, while wishing to approve the transaction bringing Dallas into the league, were pushing for Dallas and Tacoma (whose ownership group purchased the also-bankrupt Denver Avalanche franchise in early 1983) to enter the league for the upcoming 1983-84 season.

Mavericks officials were not interested in starting up a club that quickly. A problem developed in the Bankruptcy Court on June 28, 1983 that would delay the final discharge of the franchise from its jurisdiction and thus made the MISL Governors wishes moot.

"The hang up is in the bankruptcy," said Doug Adkins, vice president and legal counsel for the (Don) Carter owned Dallas Mavericks. "There are certain assessments owed by the Rockets to the league, and it has to be determined what the amount is, and who and when that would be paid, and how that would affect our offer...Once these agreements are finalized, I would say the chances are very good for us to be able to acquire the franchise...It is a disappointment to have to wait, but I am fairly optimistic something can be worked out."

--quotations from the Dallas Times Herald article of June 29, 1983 on the status of the franchise purchase.


The Major Indoor Soccer League did not approve the sale during this meeting, but the official history of the MISL states that they announced on June 28, 1983 that a team would play in Dallas for the 1984-85 season. The final deal was approved by the Dallas Mavericks and the MISL on January 9, 1984.

When all was said and done, $500,000 bought the Mavericks a legal document. By this time, there were no players, coaches, staff, or equipment to move from the Meadowlands to Dallas, Texas. The MISL recognized the franchise the Mavericks bought as completely separate from it's previous incarnation. The cleanup operation of the Rockets, who had flamed out over East Rutherford close to two years previous, was now complete.


The Franchise Adoption Papers:

The Letter of Credit

The Franchise Agreement (coming soon)

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