By Ray Schulte, SchulteSports.com
For three decades the multibillion dollar sports collectible industry has looked to the National Sports Collectors Convention, referred to as the "National,” as the crown jewel event -- a place where collectors and dealers can meet annually to buy, trade and discuss collecting memorabilia, trading cards, autographs, game-used equipment and other sports-related collectibles. In August 2010, Baltimore and the Convention Center will host the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention for the first time.
At this year's convention, held at the International Exposition Center in Cleveland, I caught up with Mike Berkus, founder, executive director and promoter of the event, to discuss the history and significance of the National not only for collectors and dealers but the city of Baltimore.
Ray Shulte: How do you feel the National has impacted the growth of the sports collectible community?
Mike Berkus: We always felt the National would be the one place each year that collectors and dealers could come together and just have a great time. Now it appears that with eBay and the advent of online selling and buying, the National truly is the one event of the year that brings hobbiests together, face to face.
RS: How many dealers and collectors/fans attended this year in Cleveland? How many do you expect in Baltimore?
MB: We had more than 700 dealers from around the country exhibiting, and approximately 24,000 collectors and fans attended the event. In Baltimore, we have a smaller space [at the Convention Center] allocated us so we can only accommodate 605 dealer exhibits. However, attendance should increase to 35,000 with it being Baltimore’s first National.
RS: How does your event impact a host city?
MB: We wil sell more than 4,000 rooms per night, restaurants handle as many as 15,000 customers, and everything from tourism to car rentals jumps dramatically.
RS: Do you partner with city businesses?
MB: Absolutely. Strong partnerships in each city we visit make the National a success. We depend on all forms of media to join with us in contests, hotels to be receptive to our thousands of attendees and dealers. Local business can participate as corporate exhibitors and/or partner with us in promoting and advertising the event.
RS: What makes the National a can’t-miss event for Baltimore sports fans?
MB: The high profile athletes we bring in, exhibitors and memorabilia from around the country. We average more than 90 superstars at every National. TriStar is our partner in bringing in athletes and they work closely with us to make the National a success.
ATLANTIQUE CITY SHOW CANCELLED
Billed as the largest indoor antiques and collectibles show in North America, next year’s show in Atlantic City has been canceled by event owner and organizer, F+W Media, and it doesn’t look like it will be back.
The Wisconsin-based F+W Media recently posted on their Atlantique City Web site that the current economic climate was hurting the show. And vendors complained about rising exhibit fees while lamenting the show didn't recognize collectible trends or attract the young demographics needed to grow the business. A show that once brought in an estimated 100,000 people annually, recently had fewer than 15,000 attendees, according to organizers.
Unfortunately, the time has run out on the Atlantique City show, but hopefully Atlantic City will remember the good times and be proactive in bringing in another antique/collectibles show to the city.
JIM RICE COMING TO SPORTS LEGENDS
Newly inducted Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice is coming to Baltimore and the Sports Legends Museum in September.
Sports Legends Museum and SchulteSports.com have teamed up to bring high-caliber athletes and companies, such as JSA Authentication, to Baltimore so fans and collectors can have the opportunity to make their collectible experience more enjoyable, secure and prosperous.
Former Boston Red Sox great Jim Rice will appear at Sports Legends to meet fans and sign autographs on Sept. 19 from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. just prior to the Red Sox-Orioles game scheduled at 7 p.m. Jimmy Spence, nationally-renowned authenticator from JSA Authentication, will be at Sports Legends Sept. 24 between the hours of 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Collectors can bring in vintage and/or current signed memorabilia to get authenticated for the purpose of re-selling or to pass down to family and relatives in the future.
Those unable to attend can send in items to be signed by Jim Rice. E-mail info@SchulteSports.com for more information.
Issue 141: September 2009