(Updated: 3/12 6:15 PM) Concern over the impending spread of the Coronavirus is having major impacts in the sports world, where the NCAA decided to cancel all activities including the NCAA Tournament while the NBA and NHL both put their seasons on hold.
While the numbers of people attending live events often reaches well into the thousands, organizers of slightly smaller gatherings are starting to face similar questions.
That group includes sports card show promoters, who will open their doors to collectors over the next month and a half.
This weekend’s Chicago Sports Spectacular at the Stephens Convention Center was cancelled Thursday evening after a declaration from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker that all gatherings of over 1,000 people should be cancelled through May 1. The show’s future had seemed ominous as the day went on with 21 autograph guests cancelling their appearances by late Thursday afternoon. One of the hobby’s largest events, the show typically draws several thousand paying customers.
The show includes about 350 booths with dozens of dealers and more than 90 current and former athletes and celebrities were originally scheduled to appear. Several dealers had already set up their booths when word of the cancellation was delivered.
Via Facebook, organizers said they be refunding pre-sale orders for autographs, but asked for ticket holders to “be patient as this is a tedious process. We will try to reschedule the various guests at a future show.”
Late Wednesday night, the Nashville Sports Cards and Collectibles Show opted to cancel one of the two monthly shows it holds.
BREAKING: Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the ongoing Coronovirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has now affected Davidson County and the Nashville area, we have cancelled our show for this Saturday (3/14/20). #NashCardShow #Nashville #Tennessee #Collect #TheHobby
— Nashville Card Show (@nashcardshow) March 12, 2020
CSA Shows also announced Wednesday that it was still planning to hold its regular show in Chantilly, VA, April 3-5 at the Dulles Convention Center.
“We understand there is a lot of concern regarding the Coronavirus and at this time the show will go on as planned,” organizers stated in a post on the show’s website. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and work with The Dulles Expo Center to ensure the well being of our customers, vendors, athletes, and employees.”
The March 23-25 GTS Marketing Show in Sterling, VA, is also still on as of now, according to the company. A large number of autograph signers were scheduled to appear there as well.
The annual Strongsville show near Cleveland, slated for April 17-19, is also still set to be held, barring any decrees from local or state officials.
Lelands is now operating the show and told us they are “closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds and taking it one day at a time. We do not know what the environment will be like a month from now, but as of today, we are planning hard for the convention. Obviously, the health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, and employees is of paramount importance, so we will continue to monitor and do what’s best for all.”
The Center for Disease Control anticipates the virus–now a global pandemic–will spread quickly. However, some areas of the country have experienced a higher rate of cases than others, resulting in a cautious approach by organizers of a wide variety of events.
“I think the thing at this point we’re recommending is consideration of the local situation, consideration of what is going on in the locale where the event is being held,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But and also where people are coming from and what the event is and how big it is. So the decisions, for example, in Seattle may look quite different than the decisions being made in a location right now where there is not community spread.”