Hobby Musings: Catching up with the National’s John Broggi – Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to catch up with Tristar’s Jeff Rosenberg, as well as write up my own tips and recommendations for attending the National. For this week, I had the chance to talk with National Sports Collectors Convention executive director John Broggi. Speaking about this year’s show, he had some tips of his own to offer. The following interview was conducted via email.
KS: The National returns to Chicago this year after being held in Atlantic City. What is about Chicago that keeps the show returning every other year?
JB: That’s easy – Chicago is centrally located, easy to travel to and has a very strong collectors base. There are plenty of nearby hotel rooms and restaurants as well.
KS: The National has often been held the first weekend of August, but this year, it’s being moved up to last weekend of July. What is the reason for the earlier National this year?
JB: No real reason. It’s just the way the schedule worked this year. We set the dates way back in 2013. We are back to early August next year.
KS: Besides the show itself, what else does the area have to offer collectors and their families?
JB: As I just mentioned, there are plenty of restaurants nearby or within close driving distance to the convention center. Downtown Chicago is a short ride away on public transportation. Obviously the Cubs and White Sox are nearby. The Fashion Outlets Mall with 100s of stores is a few short blocks away. The B1G headquarters is in Rosemont with the interactive B1G experience. MB Financial Park has concerts, an 18 screen movie theater, live music, a comedy club and more. It’s located directly behind the Rosemont Public Parking Garage. For those so inclined, the Rivers Casino is about a mile away. King’s Rosemont is a retro bar with a bowling alley and I could go on and on.
JB: We’ve investigated a couple sites without much success. The NSCC Board has asked us to continue to research possibilities. The requirements of a National site are rather complex and many potential sites don’t meet enough of those requirements. Some of the places we’ve used in the past, such as Baltimore and Anaheim are more interested in trade shows which take a lot of hotel room nights and spend a lot on food and beverage. The National is not that type of event. We will continue to search and look for additional sites
KS: Getting back to this year’s show, what are some of the highlights attendees can expect?
JB: Well, we currently have two Meet & Greet Contests under way. In one, a lucky attendee will have the chance to meet Dick Butkus, in the other, Chris Chelios. The Case Break Pavilion is back again this year and will do group breaks until midnight on Tuesday-Thursday. Some individual exhibitors have great promotions. PSA is giving away game-used bats from Kris Bryant, Derek Jeter and Frank Thomas; you can also get your picture taken and have a card of yourself encapsulated. Mile High Cards is giving away a ‘52 Topps Mickey Mantle for an attendee who consigns auction items to them. We are teaming with Heartland Blood Centers on a blood drive – donors receive 50% discount on a general admission ticket to the show. And then there are always the various redemptions run by the card manufacturers.
JB: I love the PSA promotion to allow you to get a card of yourself encapsulated. But many of the giveaways by individual exhibitors are great as well.
KS: Once again, the show is free to children 12 and under. How did this tradition start at the National and why do you feel it’s important to continue it?
JB: Years ago, Mike Berkus and I kept hearing various segments of the industry telling everyone that we needed to bring more kids into the hobby. Way back then, we decided that we could take an important step toward making that happen. We immediately made the commitment that kids 12 and under would be free as long as we ran the National.
KS: A relatively new item at the show, but one that is returning for another year, is the case breaking pavilion. What can we expect from it this year?
JB: I mentioned above that the Case Break Pavilion would be open late Tuesday-Thursday. In addition, they are bringing in some of the YouTube personalities to participate. There will be breaks of vintage packs of football and baseball cards from the 50’s-70’s. Panini is running a free “Kid’s Break”.
KS: Something with a little more tradition is the autograph pavilion. Is there anyone in particular among the autograph guests you’re looking forward to seeing at the show?
JB: Tristar always brings in a great group of signers. This year is no exception. ARod will be there. (Everyone is wondering if JLo will join him). Henry Winkler – The Fonz is a signer this year. I always enjoy seeing all the various celebrities walk into the show..
KS: If you could give advice to anyone attending the show, especially for the first time, what would it be?
JB: A couple things – 1- If you are coming for more than a day, buy a VIP package. The additional benefits are great. 2- If you see something you want for your collection but aren’t ready to buy yet, write down the booth location. The National is so big that if you don’t do this, you may not be able to locate where you saw it when you are ready to buy. 3- Lastly, wear comfortable shoes! The show floor is huge!
Editor’s Note: See our Complete Guide to the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention