The National Sports Collectors Convention is now known as one of the biggest conventions of its type in the country.
But it always wasn’t that way. It all started in 1980, when a group of collectors gathered in a ballroom at the Los Angeles International Airport Marriott Hotel sharing their passion for trading cards, autographs and memorabilia.
The convention has grown every year into a spectacular display of collectibles and will once again – after a six-year absence – return to the Atlantic City Convention Center Wednesday, July 27, through Sunday, July 31.
The National Sports Collectors Convention gathers collectors, dealers and anyone interested in trading cards, autographs and memorabilia and will feature 130 athletes including former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Joe Montana, former Miami Dolphins Quarterback Dan Marino, former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Philadelphia 76ers Hall of Famer Julius Erving and many more.
“(The athletes) enjoy it because they get treated well,” says Ray Schulte, president and CEO of Schulte Marketing and Public Relations, Inc. “They get to meet a lot of their fans. And it's just a celebration, basically. We just feel like it's just a great way for a family to come out and enjoy themselves over the course of the day. I have to say, though, it's a five-day show and most people will come out and think they can get through it in one day. You really can’t. It’s going to take about two or three days. If you really want to go through the entire show and see everything and meet the people that are there … it's an experience of a lifetime.”
What to expect
The convention will feature approximately 750 exhibitors who are expected to draw between 75,000 to 100,000 attendees.
If you have that special item – maybe that Mike Trout rookie card that you scored on - and you are perplexed how much it’s worth, you can get items appraised for free. So, bring out the baseball cards – or any other piece of sports memorabilia - you have been saving over the past 40 years and find out the value.
For big spenders out there, Schulte says there are going to be huge ticket items auctioned off.
“All of the wonderful auction houses will be set up there,” he says. “And then you’re delivering multimillion-dollar items. All the authentication houses will be there, all the grading houses and all the other service groups within the industry will be there, plus exhibitors from around the world. And they all bring the best stuff, whether it's a signed item or a piece of memorabilia, it's the best place to showcase, it is the best place to sell it. Throughout the country, they have items that they're looking to sell, or they need to get an appraisal, or they want to figure out what to do with it. It's a perfect place to come down and talk to our exhibitors, and you may end up selling to somebody.”
If you’re a sports fan who loves meeting athletes and securing autographs, the National Sports Collectors Convention has you covered. Attendees need to purchase an autograph ticket, with prices depending on what you want signed. For example, prices for Joe Montana go from $195 to $1,500. You can also purchase the Platinum Express Pass for $1,500, which gets you first in line for all autographs and includes autographs from former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, former Houston Astros stars Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, former 49ers running back Frank Gore, former Yankees pitching great Rich Gossage, former Detroit Tigers ace Jack Morris, former UFC champ Chuck Liddell and more.
You also also purchase authentication tickets for $8.50 for a new record, meaning that it is the first signature on an item, or you can pay $4.50 for an add-on autograph.
For those with deep pockets, some auction items are expected to exceed $1 million.
The Ripping Wax Pavilion should be a fun area to check out. Ripping Wax is a company in the sports card and collectibles industry that do live breaks, meaning they open packs of sports cards of all kinds from all years live. One of the most popular breaks is the pick-your-team break, which means any of the cards from the team you picked is yours. There is no telling what type of breaks they will do at the convention, but it will be totally worth checking out.
The convention also does some great charity work for Signatures for Soldiers, a nonprofit organization for Military Missions in Action (MMIA). Athletes and entertainers sign trading cards, memorabilia, photos and other items, and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward assisting military veterans with disabilities, members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Schulte says the convention, above everything else, encourages people to have a great time together.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he says. “We can help create memories. We've found that the mom or pop or son or daughter or grandma or grandpa … we've got something for everyone from items to vintage cards to pop culture. There's something for everybody there, and the biggest win for us is just to see the family connect and have just an absolutely great time.”