Hobby Musings: TRISTAR National Autograph Pavilion – With the National only a few weeks away, something on the mind of many attendees has been the lineup for the autograph pavilion. Hosted by TRISTAR, the pavilion offers fans the chance to meet many of the legends of the sports world while walking away with an autograph and/or photograph.
Being that the show is in Atlantic City, the autograph lineup has strong ties to the east coast. According to TRISTAR president Jeff Rosenberg, this was deliberate as they wanted to feature an athlete guest list with ties to cities close to Atlantic City, including New York, Boston and Philadelphia.
With TRISTAR now in its eleventh year hosting the pavilion, Rosenberg said he still feels it is an honor and privilege to orchestrate the pavilion. He, like many people, also admits to feeling a little sad this year knowing that Mike Berkus won’t be at the show. The National’s founder, Berkus passed away late last year and was the one who brought TRISTAR into the fold to run the pavilion.
TRISTAR had actually been the promoter for the National in 1995 and 1997 before it became run by the group headed by Berkus. According to Rosenberg, around 2004 or 2005, Berkus had concerns about the direction the autograph pavilion was taking. The two parties reached an agreement and TRISTAR took over in 2006. Acknowledging that it’s been a great relationship for both sides, Rosenberg said he is excited for the show in Atlantic City, calling the east coast a “great hotbed of collecting.”
Even with a few recent cancellations (John Smoltz, Bob Gibson), TRISTAR has arranged to have over 130 athletes appear at this year’s National. Though he wouldn’t rule it out entirely, Rosenberg did say that additions to the autograph lineup were unlikely at this point.
While many names will be familiar to show attendees, TRISTAR did secure a good number of first-time guests. Rosenberg was particularly excited about the several hockey legends who will be attending. He admitted that hockey hasn’t been strongly represented at the National in the past. However, given the sports’ popularity on the east coast, he wanted to rectify that with this year’s show. Key names on the list include Martin Brodeur, Mike Richter and Grant Fuhr.
Hockey isn’t the only sport with some good first-time attendees. Fresh off his fight with Daniel Cormier, MMA legend Anderson Silva will also be signing autographs. Someone who should excite the fans in the Philly area is Spurs rookie Ryan Arcidiacono. With his pivotal role in Villanova’s NCAA title, his popularity is likely to live on for decades and his table to be a busy one.
Rosenberg also spoke happily about the collection of members of the 1986 New York Giants appearing at the show on Thursday. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of that year’s Super-Bowl winning team, many of the team’s most notable members will be in attendance including Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. Group specific team themes isn’t something the autograph pavilion does a lot, but this instance was something that Rosenberg felt was worth doing. Putting it simply, he said, “Being able to see that group together, that excites me a lot.”
Rosenberg mentioned he was also looking forward to meeting former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and seeing how he interacts with the fans. He couldn’t stress enough how importance that whole dynamic is for show attendees, saying “Most of the players understand that relationship between themselves and the fans. You see a lot of players who get as excited by that interaction as the fans themselves. That’s what the show is really all about. Being able to have that brush with your favorite athlete is one of the best parts of it.”
That interaction probably helps to explain, at least in part, the popularity of TRISTAR’s photograph opportunities. With prices rivaling that of the autograph tickets themselves, several fans still pay to get a snapshot with their favorite athlete. When asked why he thought it was so popular, Rosenberg gave this simple explanation of, “Social media, number one. That’s such a big part of our world and people want to not only take the photo for their personal enjoyment, but they want to share it with their family and friends, and people they’ve never met through social media.”
Autograph and photograph tickets for this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention are currently available for purchase. This year, TRISTAR has several packages to choose from to meet the specific needs of every attendee. While many may be tempted to wait until physically being at the show, Rosenberg provided several good reasons for purchasing tickets early:
- Guaranteeing your ticket without worry of it being sold-out.
- No waiting in line to buy tickets.
- Securing a better spot in line.
- Less time standing in line.
- Quicker overall turnaround time.
In addition to facilitating the autograph pavilion, TRISTAR will debuting their Odyssey Football product at the show. Offering a 100-case run with 16 envelopes per case, the product will contain a variety of items. These will include cards, photographs and other flat memorabilia, signed by football luminaries. The checklist runs the gamut ranging from Bo Jackson to Vince Lombardi. Each case offers (9) Hall of Famers, (2) current stars and (5) football favorites.
The autograph pavilion will be open every day of the National. If you happen to be at the show’s sneak peek on Wednesday, Steve Garvey, Mitch Williams and Eddie Giacomin will be on hand to sign free autographs.
Hobby Musings: TRISTAR National Autograph Pavilion
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