It was only appropriate that the biggest sports card show in Indiana would be held inside a basketball arena.
Best Choice Fieldhouse, a 53,000 square-foot arena with six full length courts, hosted the first ever Midwest Monster on Friday and Saturday.
The facility, located just a few Reggie Miller three-pointers from I-69 in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, had plenty of room for the 350+ eight-foot tables.
One thing the building doesn’t have is a ton of parking, so promoter J&J All-Star Sports arranged for shuttle service from a nearby overflow lot. It might be the first time in hobby history that the majority of attendees were dropped off at the front door via big golf carts, but others chose to take advantage of some great summer weather to hoof it.
In the works for about a year, the show drew good crowds both days, but Friday seemed to be the busiest. While many were local or from driving distance in the Midwest, some flew in from as far away as California.
Former UNLV and NBA star Larry Johnson canceled his scheduled autograph signing late after reportedly coming down with COVID, but Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II was there.
— Salem Card Show (@salemcardshow) June 19, 2022
A few show observations:
*The vast majority of the dealer tables were focused on modern cards, the area that’s fueled the continuing growth of the hobby as a whole. That wasn’t a bad thing for the few dealers whose focus was on the vintage side and were happy to avoid a lot of competition. Set builders and those looking for Hall of Famers kept them very busy.
*As has been the trend, high quality vintage stars, especially from the 1960s on back, are tough for the vintage guys to keep in stock.
*Watching hundreds of people walking around the show at noon on a Friday was quite a sight. Outside of a few advance appointment shows like the National, it’s not something you would have seen five years ago at a regional event. Most three-day shows never bothered to open on Friday until at least mid-afternoon.
*Some of the courts at the fieldhouse have small rows of bleachers, which may have prevented more tables from being sold but also offered a nice little resting point–or the chance to stop and watch some of the action on the show floor.
*It’s a bit of a strange time for collectors and speculators on the modern side. Off-season means a bit of a slowdown for football and basketball and there haven’t been a lot of breakout stars in baseball. The wave of young stars like Acuna Jr., Tatis and Soto have either had issues with injuries or not performed that well. That leaves a lot of betting on prospects or potential ’22 and ’22-23 breakout players or a move to less volatile cards of some of the big names.
*Kudos to J&J for keeping the show open until 8 PM Friday night. I’ve never understood early closings. Yes, it can make for a long day, but these days especially, it makes sense to keep the doors open as long as practically possible. The Indy crowd hung around, for the most part, and some collectors and dealers then went straight to a trade night held nearby. Old school dealers will remember those post-show gatherings held in hotel rooms after hours.
*The number of teenagers buying and selling four and sometimes five-figure cards is still very much a thing. There’s no shortage of hustling going on around the country.
*The hobby will never run short of Mosaic and Prizm Draft.
*Products produced in the years just after the junk wax era seem underrated to a lot of collectors and dealers. Quantities of available cards from approximately 1995-2005 are far more limited than now and design creativity was strong.
*It was nice to see kids treated well by dealers. Some bought cards they didn’t really need to help a youngster without much money be able to afford a pack or two. Others handed out free cards to kids who were there with parents and made them part of the conversation.