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A Q&A with The National's John Broggi

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Canceling the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) in 2020 was one of the toughest decisions executive director John Broggi has been a part of in his 36 years on the job.

The 41st annual show was originally scheduled for Atlantic City, N.J., for the summer and then pushed back to December before ultimately being canceled.

Sports Collectors Digest checked in with Broggi in early October to talk to him about calling off the convention, how the 2021 show in Chicago will be bigger and better than ever, about Atlantic City being selected for ’22 and how the NSCC is looking into adding more locations.

John Broggi National Corporate 2

SCD: How hard of a decision was it to have to cancel the 2020 convention?

BROGGI: It was difficult. When the pandemic first struck, I think all of us felt that we were going to be able to get through it and life would be exactly the way it was in a month or two or at most three. So, when we saw that things were not going to change, we began discussing potential future dates in 2020 with Atlantic City and also other sites as well. They had a bunch of other events that had been canceled in March, April and May that were looking also to reschedule later in the year, so there were very few dates left over, which is why we went with a potential December date. … As the summer wore on, it became more and more apparent that large group gatherings just weren’t going to be held in New Jersey, at least through the end of this year. It was difficult, but it was the right move to make.

SCD: What kind of feedback did you receive from dealers and collectors?

BROGGI: Most of the dealers were understanding of what we were trying to do and didn’t have a lot of problem with it. The collectors in the Northeast were upset because they I guess choose not to travel much beyond the Northeast area, which is part of the problem. They felt like they got cheated out of a National in their local area. There was a strong push for us to reschedule the 2021 National in Atlantic City again. The way we schedule our events, we can’t do that. We have hotel rooms booked, we have a convention center booked for 2021, and just could not do that.

SCD: How do you make the 2021 show bigger and better since the 2020 event didn’t happen?

BROGGI: We’ve actually taken on one of the halls that we haven’t used in Chicago in the past and moved the Case Break Pavilion back there and we put some dealer booths into the area where PSA and the Case Break Pavilion had been for the last two Nationals. So, we were able to fit all the dealers who had done the previous Chicago show in 2019, plus any dealers who were doing just the Atlantic City show that they were scheduled in 2020. So, we’ll be able to fit everybody who had signed up for 2019 and 2020 by producing a little bit of extra space (adds about 20,000 square feet).

SCD: Are you expecting more collectors to attend in 2021 because this year was missed?

BROGGI: I think so. We all know how hot the sports collectors industry has been over the past six months to a year, especially with the pandemic. You can see that sales have gone through the roof. We had felt that if we had been able to hold the show this past summer, it would have probably been the most highly attended National ever. And we’re expecting that things should continue along those same lines and Chicago next year should be one of our better shows as well.”

SCD: Cleveland, which hosted seven Nationals, is no longer an option. How does that affect everything for future conventions?

BROGGI: Atlantic City had asked us to come back in 2022 anyway, but we had been contracted for Cleveland. We had told them that and they were reluctantly accepting that. When we got the call from Cleveland totally out of the blue – I was on my way out the door and my phone rang, and it was the people from Cleveland telling me, ‘By the way, tomorrow we’re closing the building.’ The Atlantic City folks, since they had wanted us to come back in 2022 anyway, had been saving the exact same date as the Cleveland show was scheduled. We presented to the board of directors that instead of going to Cleveland, we could go to Atlantic City and it would allow us to fulfill our agreement with them under new terms and conditions.

SCD: West Coast collectors are always wanting the National back there – 2006 was the last time it was held in Anaheim. Are there other venue options besides the Midwest and Northeast?

BROGGI: We started to look at alternative sites, especially now with Cleveland out of our rotation. We’ve started looking at other buildings, but we’re fairly limited by the number of buildings that have 400,000 square feet on one level. I’ve checked in with Pittsburgh, and they have a million-and-a-half-square feet, but the most square feet they have on one level is 200,000. You can’t separate dealers and put them on three different levels, it just won’t work. The requirements for The National aren’t just as simple as saying, hey, I’d like it to be in my hometown, which is every time we put something on our website or Facebook, we get, ‘Why don’t you run it in Jacksonville? Why don’t you run it in the Niagara Falls Convention Center?’ Every time that I look at a convention center in the area that (collectors) are asking us to put it in, and it’s like 72,000 square feet, which is not enough for 20 percent of our show. … We’re looking at some new alternative sites, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to come up with something to replace Cleveland and maybe to be a new site for The National to be run in future years. They have to have a historical background. For us to move to a city like Las Vegas, which has no real sports traditional history, doesn’t make a lot of sense.