Quick: What was the first Dallas sports franchise to play in the American Airlines Center?
The Mavericks? The Stars?
No, it was the Dallas Sidekicks who christened the AAC with a professional indoor soccer match against the San Diego Sockers on Aug. 19, 2001.
Three years later, the franchise that had won four indoor championships in various leagues since 1983 disbanded. Their home stadium for every other game, Reunion Arena, soon fell to demolition after years of abandonment.
When Sidekicks legend Tatu took to the podium Tuesday at the Allen Events Center -- announcing that "We're back" -- it signaled the end of an eight-year hiatus.
The Sidekicks will resume operation under some of the same ownership in November, participating in the Professional Arena Soccer League with Tatu returning as the coach, general manager and co-owner.
The team will play all eight of its home games at the Allen Event Center, beginning with opening night, Nov. 3. The Sidekicks said they hope to bring the same San Diego Sockers team that helped open the AAC back to town to reboot the franchise.
Former Sidekicks owner Sonny Williams continues to be a part of the organization’s ownership group alongside former general manager Jim Tolbert. The new majority owner is Ronnie Davis, who will serve as president and CEO.
Tatu said he hopes the team can be a showcase for the soccer talent already present in North Texas, and will turn to a local tryout to field the majority of the roster for the 2012-13 season. To the longtime Sidekicks fans' delight, Tatu also said he hopes to bring back a few former Sidekicks from the turn-of-the-century teams to provide some experience in the lineup.
The season will also serve to honor the career of the face of the Sidekicks franchise for over 24 years. Tatu’s No. 9 will find a spot in the rafters of the Allen Event Center before one of the games this season. In addition, a Sidekicks player will throw an autographed Tatu jersey into the crowd after every goal, mimicking the celebration Tatu became famous for throughout his career.
Season tickets are already available through the team, and individual tickets go on sale May 7.
Former Sidekicks head coach and current executive director of the Dallas Cup Gordon Jago shared the feelings of soccer fans in North Texas.
“The memories of all those fun nights at Reunion Arena come flooding back and I cannot wait to cheer the Sidekicks on once again,” Jago said.