Hobby Musings: Broggi, National staff anticipating big crowd in Cleveland – We are quickly approaching the 2018 National Sports Collector’s Convention in Cleveland. With anticipation building, collectors, vendors and National staff alike are all preparing for the hobby’s biggest event of the year. For more on this year’s show, I had the chance to catch up with the National’s John Broggi. The following interview was conducted via email and all information is as of July 23rd, 2018.
KS: The National returns to the IX Center in Cleveland for the first time since 2014. What is it about the location that keeps you bringing the National back to it?
JB: There are a lot of requirements for a city to host a successful National. Building size, parking, hotel rooms, cost and other factors eliminate many venues which we’d like to use. Cleveland is able to fulfill all of the requirements. It is easy to fly in and out of. The convention center is huge and has easy access from everywhere. That, along with their strong sports history in all the major sports makes a return to Cleveland on a regular basis an easy decision.
KS: Last year’s attendance in Chicago, even during its first few days, was pretty good. What kind of crowd are you expecting for Cleveland this year?
JB: Based on advance ticket sales for this year’s National, I think this is going to be a monster show. If the advance sales continue at this pace, we may have the largest National attendance since I’ve been involved in the show. I think the Football Hall of Fame induction has allowed Tristar to create an Autograph Pavilion second to none.
KS: One of the cool things about IX Center is the Ferris Wheel inside of it. Will it be open for business during the National?
JB: The Ferris Wheel will operate during the National. It’s run by the I-X Center and is a trip everyone should make at least once.
KS: What are some of the highlights we can expect for the National this year?
JB: Well, as I mentioned above, the autograph pavilion is the largest group we’ve ever had. It includes so many Hall of Famers in every sport that I doubt you’d ever get to see a larger group in one location. We also are supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland by inviting them to bring a group of youngsters to the show. There will be a silent auction throughout the week to benefit this fine group.
KS: If there’s one thing you’d absolutely have to recommend doing at this year’s show, what would it be?
JB: We already mentioned the Ferris Wheel, but many of our exhibitors have promotions as well. I plan to go over to the PSA Booth and get a photo taken and have it slabbed!
KS: What’s an under-the-radar attraction that you would recommend checking out?
JB: On Friday (August 3rd) at the Mike Berkus Stage, Rico Petrocelli will be signing autographs for VIPs, followed by an appearance by Olympic Gold Medalist Dick Fosbury, whose new book releases at the National. Then later, Rico and Tom Zappala will host “Great American Collectibles Show”, a weekly radio show presented by PSA and The National live on the Mike Berkus Stage.
KS: An elephant in the room when it comes to the National is the limited amount of venues/cities it goes to now. What is the reason for not expanding the host cities beyond Chicago and the other recent sites?
JB: I mentioned above that there are many requirements which must be met to host a National. Dates, size of facility, hotel room availability, cost of the building, ease of move-in for exhibitors are just a few. Once again, this year, we looked at several sites including Dallas, Denver, St Louis, San Diego, Baltimore and others. None of the sites we spoke to could provide us with all that we need to put on the National. I believe that the cities we are currently using understand the economic impact our event provides to the city and are much more flexible in working with us. To be fair, some of the cities we spoke to have ongoing events in their buildings during the time frame we need to run the National. If we could get into one of those sites, I think the event would be well-received, but we cannot make major changes in the structure of the event.
KS: I had the chance to speak with Jeff Rosenberg a few weeks ago about this year’s autograph pavilion. There are some pretty big names, including Albert Pujols and Francisco Lindor, scheduled to attend. Are there are any athletes in particular you’re looking forward to seeing how their crowds perform at the show?
JB: Honestly, I rarely spend much time in the autograph pavilion. Once Mike Berkus and I contracted with Tristar to run the autograph pavilion, it has been problem free. So, I spend more of my time in other areas of the show. I guess I would enjoy seeing how Albert Pujols is accepted by Cleveland fans. I assume Francisco Lindor and Corey Kluber will get a warm reception. The Hanson Brothers should be a fun signing as well.
KS: The breaking pavilion actually debuted at the Cleveland show in 2014. Now that it’s had a couple of years under its belt, how do you think it’s fit in with everything else the National to offer?
JB: The breakers pavilion has been a nice addition to the National. It’s grown significantly in size and provides another opportunity for people who participate online at home in this activity to see the magnitude of the National.
KS: What is something you’d like to see the National do in the future that it doesn’t currently do now?
JB: The National was at the forefront of involving kids in the event. Once again, this year (as in every year since the late 1990’s), kids 12 and under get free admission to the National. I firmly believe we need to continue to reach out to involve not only kids but others who are sports fans in general.
KS: I’ll get you out of here on this. If you could give show attendees any one piece of advice, what would it be?
JB: How about two pieces of advice – wear good shoes and plan to spend several days! You can’t see it all in a day.