New Sidekicks owner has beaten odds before

By Terry Bigham Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News
Published June 11, 1989


Six years ago, when David Paschal began his oil business, the industry was falling on hard times. But Paschal used a little luck and good business sense to succeed where others failed.

Now, Paschal will attempt to produce the same kind of success in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
The 35-year-old Paschal will become owner of the Sidekicks after helping the franchise through a four-month financial reorganization. On June 28, the Dallas City Council is expected to approve a note for payment of back rent and a new lease at Reunion Arena to complete the bankruptcy proceedings.

Paschal will become the franchise's third owner in less than six years. Like his predecessor, Stan Finney, Paschal became involved with the Sidekicks because of his children.

Paschal began attending indoor soccer games in 1986 with his soccer-playing sons, now 10 and 13. Paschal, who also has a 3-year old daughter, said his boys loved the game, so he made a deal with them.

"I told them for every goal they scored, I would take them to a Sidekicks game,' Paschal said. "The kids loved the Sidekicks and they went wild -- I mean their scoring tripled. We went to all these games, then we bought season tickets. That's when I started going to the games on a regular basis.'

Paschal said he never paid attention to the club's financial woes and actually tried to buy into the franchise as a limited partner last year with the ownership group headed by Finney.

"I didn't realize they were losing so much money,' Paschal said. "He (Finney) didn't want to let me in because they were having trouble.'

The trouble turned into bankruptcy last February, which allowed Paschal to become the majority owner. In the reorganization plan, Paschal will control 80 percent of the club. Finney's group will retain 20 percent.

Why does Paschal think he can succeed with the Sidekicks -- a team that lost a total of $11 million in its five seasons under Finney and original owner Donald Carter?

"If you compare it to the NBA and NFL, in their 11th year they were going broke and had teams going in and out,' said Paschal. "We're just like they were. I think I'm coming in at the right time. The hard work has been done by Finney and Carter. They struggled through the hardest years of forming this team and this league. It may not be easy immediately, but I feel it will be a whole lot easier for me than it was for them.'

Venturing into the unknown is not unusual for Paschal. The Oklahoma City native attended Baylor, majoring in marketing and management, but found himself without a job after graduation.

"I considered college a waste of my time, like any pompous young kid would,' Paschal said. "I just wanted to get out. And when I did get out, I didn't have a job and couldn't get one.'

After working as a bank teller, then in the trucking business and later in house remodeling, Paschal got into the oil business.

In 1983, just as the industry was starting to decline, Paschal borrowed money to start his own oil business -- Paschal Petroleum -- and struck oil on his first well.

"I basically wildcat,' Paschal said of his Dallas-based firm which mainly drills in West Texas. "We're really looking for new, unproven reserves. Instead of drilling in geologically safe areas, I'm looking for untapped reserves. It's primarily oil, but we have some gas production.'

Six years later, despite the bottoming-out of the oil market, Paschal Petroleum operates between $30-40 million in oil properties.

Now Paschal turns his attention to the Sidekicks.

He will keep Gordon Jago as club president and Billy Phillips as head coach but will revamp the sales and front-office staff. Although he has hired a yet-to-be announced general manager to run the club, Paschal will play an active role in the franchise.

"I won't be over there (at the Sidekicks offices) every day, but I'll sign every check,' Paschal said. "That's the best way for me to learn the business. I'll keep a real tight control on the money, and we'll have tight reporting policies. I'll take a big interest in the sales and advertising, the things I kind of know about.'

Much like the oil business six years ago, Paschal enters the MISL at possibly its lowest point.

"That's a good comparison,' Paschal said, "because there is nowhere to go but up.'