Like countless other events last year’s National Sports Collectors Convention, scheduled for Atlantic City, NJ, never got off the ground. The east coast stop got a rain check for 2022, but the cancellation ended a streak of annual gatherings that dates back to a time when there was still only one company producing about 99% of North America’s trading cards.
The first one was held in a hotel ballroom in Los Angeles back in 1980 and the 41st edition of the National Sports Collectors Convention kicks off Wednesday afternoon at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.
Over the years, the show’s home grew from hotel ballrooms to massive convention centers that are more akin to jumbo jet hangars.
The 2021 National opens Wednesday but the show floor was active Tuesday for dealer set up.
Over 650 exhibitors, from weekend dealers to high profile trading card companies, authentication firms and auction houses have reserved booth space at the show from Wednesday through Sunday. They’ll occupy over 400,000 square feet of convention center along with numerous case breakers who will conduct their internet broadcasts from the facility.
The annual gathering of sports fans, collectors, dealers and other groups interested in collecting trading cards, autographs and other vintage and current memorabilia is being held in the Chicago area for the 14th time. The location is popular, with O’Hare airport nearby and plenty of hotels within walking distance of the show.
“Chicago has an exceptionally strong sports tradition with very avid and knowledgeable collectors and a diversified sports fan base,” said said Dan Berkus, NSCC Marketing Director.
TriStar Productions has lined up 115 current and former athletes and entertainers to sign autographs during the show’s five-day run.
The 2019 NSCC was the largest since the famous event in Anaheim, CA 28 years ago during another hobby “boom” period. Over 64,000 tickets were sold with over 90,000 estimated to have been on the floor that year, thanks to card company giveaways that attracted a lot of non-collectors who were looking to make a profit.
Tuesday is move-in day for most of the dealers, who drove or flew in from across the country and Canada.
Dealer-to-dealer sales are a significant part of the show, with most happening long before the public is allowed inside.
While there will be plenty of new sports card releases and singles to buy–and no shortage of collectors chasing them– there’s a heavy emphasis on older sports cards and memorabilia and collectors from across North America and beyond will bring their want lists to take advantage of the opportunity to buy in person from a huge array of dealer inventory.
If it seems a little overwhelming and you’re not sure how to tackle such a big event, it’s best to check out our tips for attending the NSCC.
VIP tickets offering free autographs. admission to Wednesday’s free food fest, early entry and other perks have been sold out for a while, but general admission tickets are still available and the show’s website has more information.
Show hours are 4pm – 8pm Wednesday; 10am – 6pm Thursday-Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.
Children 12 and under admitted free all week.
For full coverage of the show up to now and all week long, click here.
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