Walk into The National and take a hard right; you will see multiple lines stretching to the back of the ix Center. No need to worry, these aren’t the lines for the restrooms or to buy a $3 bottle of water. These are the patient collectors lining up every hour for the more that 140 autograph signers passing through the Tri-Star Autograph Pavilion this week.
What looks like organized chaos is actually a well organized assembly line of grouped autograph seekers that move quicker than one might think. This system works, thanks to the “marshals” that herd the groups through the maze of ropes and turns until they reach the signer at the back of the pavilion. It also helps that autograph hounds respect the rules, show patience and know with a ticket in hand, they are assured of getting their autograph and/or photo, along with spending 22 seconds with one of their sports heroes.
I paid for an autograph today, just to see how the whole process works. It’s pretty easy and it’s enjoyable to chat with fellow show attendees in the queue. Here’s how it all works.
Do your homework
Visit the show’s website and zero in on your targets. If you are a VIP pass holder, you will get certain autographs for free with your admission. You will still have to map a game plan as some of these signing times overlap. Some pros have a friend, wife or son on hand if one line is closing while there are still standing across the Pavilion in an adjacent line.
Buy autograph tickets ahead of time
It’ll save time and you’ll be ready to roll. Sometimes autograph guests do sell out and buying early will mean you’ll be in better shape to manage your time. You can see the price breakdown and schedule on TriStar’s website.
Don’t lose your autograph ticket
After you fill out a large yellow sheet (think of a Greek restaurant menu) with your choice of autographs, pictures and inscriptions, you will pay and be given autograph tickets.
Moving through the line
Make sure you stay in line. Showing your tickets will help you move to various checkpoints in the line, but you have to present and give your ticket to the table once you are the next person “on deck” for the autograph.
Be respectful and courteous
I purchased a ticket and waited in the line for former Notre Dame great, Cincinnati Bengals fan favorite and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Ross Browner. Browner’s signature was only $30 and he couldn’t have been nicer even though he was wearing a cast on his non-signing left hand with an apparent injury.
There is an authentication booth strategically placed at the exit to the Autograph Pavilion in case you want to add it to your item. Not necessary but if you think you might sell down the road, it’s an easy way to have the COA buyers will probably want.
Show off your autograph
There are always interested parties in and around the lines wanting to see what unique items were signed. Have fun showing off and see what items others have gotten signed.
You can take a chance and maybe score a deal as some collectors are looking to trade VIP or pre-purchased autograph tickets in and around the line. You might be able to get a deal or two by keeping your eyes open for those folks or chatting up a few people nearby.
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