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If presale tickets are any indication, this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) could be one of the largest ever.

According to NSCC Executive Director John Broggi, as of mid-June, ticket sales at all levels — VIP to general admission — were double the amount at that same point last year.

In Rosemont, Ill. in 2021, attendance figures were recorded as the second highest mark in the convention’s 41-year history, approaching 90,000.

“As big as last year’s show was in Chicago, we’re well ahead of that in advanced ticket sales right now,” Broggi told Sports Collectors Digest. “Our biggest preparation the last couple weeks has been making sure that we can deal with the number of people who will be walking into the convention center during the week. We think we’ve got that under control.

“We’re looking forward to this one. It’s a biggy.”

NSCC Executive Director John Broggi.

NSCC Executive Director John Broggi.

Also See: Update on autograph signers, events for 2022 The National 

This year’s show will run July 27-31 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, N.J. The National was supposed to run in Atlantic City in 2020, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The National was last held in Atlantic City in 2016.

“Collectors are just desperate to come to a big show on the East Coast,” Broggi said.

Presale orders for The National generally account for the bulk of tickets. However, last year there were a high number of people who walked up to the convention ticket booth.

“This year, we’re selling a lot more general admission tickets,” Broggi said. “We’ve always kept the online ticket sales open through the show, so it’s cheaper to buy a ticket at home and print it out or put it on your phone and get into the show that way than walking up to the ticket booth there.”

Broggi is forecasting another mammoth event. It’s been widely accepted that the 1991 convention in Anaheim, Calif., holds the record for crowd size at around 100,000.

“I’m thinking we’ll have something between last year and Anaheim,” Broggi said. “I think we’ll be at least the second largest attended show in the history of The National. Anaheim was 91,000 or 93,000 or whatever they’re quoting, that seems like an unattainable number, but who knows.”

Seeing the large interest in this year’s show — after the hobby explosion during the pandemic — is an indication to Broggi that the industry is still strong.

“I think what it says is the hobby is growing and is becoming more mainstream than it’s ever been,” Broggi said. “Our corporate area will have so many new people exhibiting there that they just want to be part of the show. We’ve had to turn down so many people because we just don’t have the space.”

Of the people who purchased tickets prior to mid-June, 50.3 percent indicated on a pre-show survey that it was going to be their first time attending The National. Broggi also noted 37 percent of attendees plan on being at the show all five days.

Even with high gas prices and inflated cost of living, 47 percent will be traveling more than 200 miles to the Atlantic City Convention Center.

BOOTHS, SPONSORS ON THE RISE

Dealers interested in having a booth at this year’s National had to sign up at last year’s convention. The spots sold out quickly.

Broggi said there are just under 600 dealer booths for Atlantic City — up about 75 booths from the 2021 show.

There are also 20 new corporate sponsors for the event, which now totals about 60 booths.

The National Executive Director John Broggi and Heritage Auctions' Derek Grady participate in a Q&A on the Main Stage at The National.

The National Executive Director John Broggi and Heritage Auctions' Derek Grady participate in a Q&A on the Main Stage at The National in Chicago. 

Also See: Beckett has new CEO, making big changes 

The show will be using the entire exhibit level of the convention center. In the past, Broggi has said The National requires a bare minimum of 400,000 square feet for a venue to be acceptable to hold the massive event.

That’s not the case any longer.

“400,000 won’t fit us anymore,” Broggi said. “That was the number we used to use when people wanted to come in. We’re maxing out almost every building we’re in.”

Broggi is excited to be back in Atlantic City for the show — not just because it’s his home state — for a number of reasons.

“It’s a great venue,” Broggi said. “The location is good, it’s right off the Atlantic City Expressway. There’s a train station that will drop you off directly into the convention center. It’s a good site in terms of accessibility and there’s plenty to do during the day.

“If you want to take your family down to Ocean City, it’s 10 miles away. They can stay on the beach all day, you can walk around the convention center. If you’re there by yourself and you want to go over to the boardwalk to have some activities there, you can go to a casino or two and have some fun there. The restaurants are crazy good. No matter which hotel you go into, they have phenomenal restaurants. I think it’s a good location.”

‘THE ORIGINAL TRADE NIGHT’

For the last few Nationals, it has become customary that when the convention center closes after a day of the show, trade nights break out at area hotels.

These after-hour events have become so popular that this year The National will be officially sanctioning a trade night.

“Trade night for us started years ago, back in 2016 [in Atlantic City],” said Ryan Johnson, one of the organizers. “Jimmy, Kentuckybasketballcards on Instagram, had suggested we set up a get-together/trade night for people on Instagram to hang out after the show — a safe space with free food, drink and admission to hang out and trade cards with people who we interact with on Instagram every day. This was early when Instagram was starting to take off and social media for cards was becoming a thing. We’ve run it every year since. This is just our first year as official partners of The National.”

The 2021 National featured a big turnout for Trade Night in Chicago.

The 2021 National featured a big turnout for Trade Night in Chicago.

Collectors participate in Trade Night at the 2021 National.

Collectors participate in Trade Night at the 2021 National.

This year’s trade night is scheduled for Thursday, July 28 in the convention center, next to the main showroom in Hall A. Doors for the show will close at 6 p.m., and trade night will run from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

“Any and all are welcome — the more the merrier,” said Johnson, who has a big following on social media as @cardcollector2. “The goal is to offer a spot for collectors of any and all ages, and value points for their collections, to come wheel-and-deal with other collectors once The National show ends on Thursday. ‘The Original Tradenight’ is what we've been calling it this year. … Our goal is to have as much food and drink as possible, as well as a plethora of tables and chairs for folks to sit at and trade all night long.”

For a closer look at Trade Night, check out this video of last year's event: 

Broggi thinks the trade night is a phenomenal idea and added it’s cool to see collectors engaging with one another outside of the show.

“They want to interest people with something to do in the evening other than go up to the boardwalk and gamble. It gives them the opportunity to do that,” Broggi said. “The manufacturers that are participating are obviously looking to impress everybody with all their new product and all that stuff that they’ve got. I think they’re happy to be able to be in the convention venue and to be sanctioned by us.”

Since it’s been six years since Atlantic City has hosted The National, a lot has changed with the hobby during that time and new collectors have entered the market. Broggi has a few tips for first-time show attendees that can be relevant for long-time National fans as well.

“Wear well-worn shoes so you can have your feet be comfortable,” Broggi said. “Come in with a plan, know what you’re going to do and know what you’re looking to buy. If you find it, if it’s at a price that you would be willing to spend, do it, because you’ll never get back there. If you do get back there, it might be gone.”

42nd National Sports Collectors Convention Tentative Schedule

Atlantic City Convention Center 

Monday July 25

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Corporate Registration (2nd Floor)

9-4:30 Corporate Move-In

Tuesday July 26

8-4:30 Corporate Registration (2nd Floor)

8-4:30 Corporate Move-In

8:00-4:30 Dealer Registration (Loading Dock)

8-4:30 Early Dealer Set-up (Advance Registration)

10am-12am Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

Wednesday July 27 Memory Lane National Sneak Peek Night

8-2 Dealer Registration (Loading Dock)

8-2 Corporate Registration (2nd Floor)

8-2 Dealer/Corporate Move-In (Sneak Peek Opens 3:30 p.m.)

10-8 VIP & GA Ticket Sales (Lobby)

10-7 VIP Registration and Gift Distribution (2nd Floor)

10-12am Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

2-4 VIP Party hosted by Pristine Auctions (Hall A)

3pm Free VIP Signings — Ron Jaworski, Bernie Parent, Greg Luzinski (Hall A)

3:30-8 National Sneak Peek open to VIPs

4-8 National Sneak Peek open to General Public

Thursday July 28

8:30-6 VIP & GA Ticket Sales (Lobby)

8:30-6 VIP Registration and Gift Distribution (2nd Floor)

8:30-6 Show Floor Open to Exhibitors

9:30-6 Show Floor Open to VIPs

10-6 Show Open to General Public

10-12am Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

6:30-10:30 National Trade Show Night — The Original Trade Night hosted by Ryan & Jimmy

6:30 NSCC Annual Dealer Meeting (Room 201)

Friday July 29

7:15-9:15am Booth Selection Lottery (Room 202)

8:30-6 VIP & GA Ticket Sales (Lobby)

8:30-6 VIP Registration and Gift Distribution (2nd Floor)

8:30-6 Show Floor Open to Exhibitors

9:30-6 Show Floor Open to VIPs

10-6 Show Open to General Public

10-6 Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

Saturday July 30

7:15-9:15am Booth Selection Lottery (Room 202)

8-6 VIP & GA Ticket Sales (Lobby)

8:30-6 VIP Registration and Gift Distribution (2nd Floor)

8:30-6 Show Floor Open to Exhibitors

9:30-6 Show Floor Open to VIPs

10-6 Show Open to General Public

10-6 Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

Sunday July 31

8-9:15am Booth Selection Lottery (Room 202

8-4 VIP & GA Ticket Sales (Lobby)

8-4 VIP Registration and Gift Distribution (2nd Floor)

8:30-5 Show Floor Open to Exhibitors

9:30-5 Show Floor Open to VIPs

10-5 Show Open to General Public

10-5 Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion Powered by Whatnot

5-12 Exhibitor Move-out

Monday Aug. 1

8-12 Exhibitor Move-out

• Kids 12 and Under Admitted Free all week with adult

• Tristar Autograph Pavilion located in Hall D

• Mike Berkus Main Stage located in the Case Break Pavilion in Hall B

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