Hobby Musings: Broggi, NSCC ready to welcome attendees for 40th time – I can’t believe it myself, but the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention is only a little over a week away. Back in Chicago after a year’s absence, 2019 marks the 40th edition of the show. The National is known for providing a little bit of everything for its attendees no matter what your hobby preference. To find out more about this year’s show, I had the chance to catch up with the National’s John Broggi. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: John, this year is the 40th edition of the National Sports Collectors Convention. First off, congratulations. Was does it mean to you to reach this milestone?
JB: 40 Years really means a lot to me and to the National. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been able to create and maintain such a strong level of support for a once-a-year event. Our industry went through some very difficult times and the National endured some of those difficult times along with the rest of the hobby. But our major goal has always been to run an event at which all segments of the sports memorabilia collecting community could have a venue where everyone can come together. We’re happy that we’ve been able to do that.
KS: What do you think it would have meant to Mike Berkus to be able to coordinate this show in particular?
JB: Mike would have been very excited to be working on the 40th anniversary National. He was someone who loved history and especially loved the event. I miss working with him on a daily basis as we prepare for the show. We planned, we laughed, we argued, but we always made sure the show was the best we could make it for attendees and exhibitors.
KS: What do you think has been the biggest change in the National from its inception to today?
JB: I think the original National was primarily focused on vintage cards and little else. Back in 1980 we didn’t have much more to deal with. Topps was the only new card manufacturer and then produced one major set per sport. It wasn’t until 1981 that multiple card companies and card sets became part of the hobby scene. And then it took a while for that aspect of collecting to become part of the National. Also, autograph guests weren’t a major focus of the National in its early years, but this year we have 120+ autograph signers.
Find a complete list of autograph signers for this year’s show HERE.
KS: With that in mind, how would you like to see it grow even more in the future?
JB: I think we are seeing that happen on a regular basis. When a new activity gets hot in the hobby, it invariably makes its way into the National. Auction houses now play a big role and all the major companies wouldn’t miss the National. Breakers have become a standard at the show in just a few short years. I like to think that if another innovation takes the hobby by storm, it will quickly make its way into the National.
KS: The show returns to Chicago this year. What are some of the highlights attendees should be looking out for?
JB: In 2018 in Cleveland, we had a relationship with Ronald McDonald Charites and have brought that relationship to Chicago. Ray Schulte has been working with RMHC of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana to provide a “Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience” for a youngster and their family. In addition, there will be a charity auction to raise funds for RMHC. We have items donated by many groups within the hobby and expect a lot of action.
We will have a VIP-only event on Wednesday at 2PM with Gary Vaynerchuk (a social media guru, who also happens to have a dealer booth at the show) and Josh Luber of StockX (a new platform which began as a collectible sneakers marketplace). Both these people bring a new level of business acumen to share with our industry.
KS: What is on tap for the breaking pavilion this year?
JB: The Case Break Pavilion will be the largest at any National. In addition to being open late on Tuesday-Thursday, there will be live breaks from most card manufacturers as well as a Kid’s Break hosted by Panini. In a real coup, GTS is bringing Jeopardy Champion James Holzhauer, who is a Chicago native, to the show for a Q&A session and a Jeopardy challenge with selected audience members. On Thursday Gary Vaynerchuk, who I mentioned above, will have a session on the Mike Berkus Main Stage. The Case Break Pavilion will be a hopping place all week.
KS: As much time as one can spend at the National, there are hours where you can’t be in the convention center. What are some things people can do in the area around the show during the night?
JB: Rosemont is a true Convention town. From the very simple like the Muvico Theater Complex to going into Wrigley to see the Cubs play the Brewers in a weekend series, there is plenty to do in and around Rosemont. The Chicago Dogs are a minor league team playing in Rosemont and will be home during the National. For old-timers, Johnny Mathis and REO Speedwagon are appearing in the Rosemont Theatre on the weekend. There is a Rosemont.com app available in the app store with many more activities.
KS: If you only had time to do one thing at the National, what would you recommend?
JB: For me, seeing older one-of-a-kind memorabilia would be my one goal. But everyone who attends the National is different. There will be people whose main objective will be to visit the autograph pavilion and see the great slate of autograph guests Tristar is bringing in. Others will want to visit the manufacturers’ booths and partake in the great wrapper redemptions that they run. We have a saying about the National: “If you’re looking for something and can’t find it at the National, it probably doesn’t exist“. That carries over to things to do as well.
KS: What is the biggest piece of advice you can provide for someone attending the National, especially if it’s their first time going?
JB: This one is easy. The National is a huge show. It probably can’t be seen in just one day. Take a couple of days, wear comfortable shoes and have a list of what you plan to accomplish at the show.
KS: I know we go over this every year, but a topic that constantly comes up with the National is its locations. Currently rotating between Chicago, Cleveland and Atlantic City, when will see another venue for the show?
JB: We spent a lot of time investigating other venues before last year’s National. People aren’t aware of some of the requirements a venue must meet to be considered. For example, we need 400,000 contiguous square feet on one level. That eliminates a lot of buildings right away.
Next, our dates are pretty well set in stone. The Baseball All-Star Game, BB Hall of Fame Induction and Football Hall of Fame Induction never announce their dates in advance, but are always around the same time as the National. Running the event any later in August would lose a number of exhibitors and attendees who are back at school.
Finally, many cities require hefty food and beverage and/or hotel room night purchases. We cannot make those guarantees and still keep National booth fees at the current rate. Rest-assured, we will continue to pursue sites other than the current three, but they must meet our requirements.
Stay up to date on everything happening at the 2019 National Sports Collectors Convention by bookmarking and reading our Attendee Guide.
For more from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.
Hobby Musings: Broggi, NSCC ready to welcome attendees for 40th time
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