The first one was held in a hotel ballroom in Los Angeles back in 1980 and no one was totally certain there would be another, but the 40th edition of the National Sports Collectors Convention kicks off Wednesday afternoon at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.
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 13th time. It was last held there in 2017 and then set up shop in Cleveland last year. Chicago is also set to host in 2021 and 2023.
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 400,000 square feet of convention center along with numerous case breakers who will conduct their internet broadcasts from the facility. Over 100 current and former athletes and entertainers will also filter in over the show’s five-day run.
Tuesday was move-in day for most of the dealers, who drove or flew in from all over the U.S. and Canada and, aided by convention center staff, unloaded the goods they’ll be offering.
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, 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.
“The National Sports Collectors Convention is the sports and entertainment industry’s largest collectibles annual premier event,” said long-time NSCC Promoter John Broggi. “We are excited to have Chicago play host to some of the greatest sports vintage memorabilia in existence.”
Among the signers at the TRISTAR Autograph Pavilion are Dick Butkus, Julius Erving, Joe Montana, Reggie Jackson, Barry Sanders, Brooks Robinson, Rickey Henderson, Pete Rose, Greg Maddux, Carlton Fisk, and newly elected Baseball Hall of Famers – Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith. The full list of signers with pricing and schedules is on the TRISTAR website.
In addition, notable celebrities scheduled to appear at the National include; Rick Harrison, from History Channel’s hit TV show Pawn Stars – Sunday, 9 am – 4 pm Beckett Media Booth #670, Jeopardy Champion James Holzhauer, Friday, 1 pm Mike Berkus Stage, Graham Elliot, renowned chef, TV personality from Bravo’s hit show Top Chef – Saturday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, at the Topps Booth and Gary Vaynerchuk from Vaynerchuk Media who will occupy booth #309 as a vendor.
“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.
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.
The National’s VIP and general admission tickets can be purchased on-site, throughout the show, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Visitors who purchase the VIP tickets get to attend the Wednesday afternoon’s VIP Party and Memory Lane Sneak Peek as part of their package.
Show hours are 4pm – 8pm Wednesday; 10am – 6pm Thursday-Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday.
Children 12 and under admitted free all week. General admission and VIP tickets are available at a discount on the NSCC website and also at the door.