SportsFest 2008 kicks off its three-day run in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg this Friday, and show officials are confident the event will be a success in spite of today's challenging show environment. The Chicago Bears Expo is also being held this weekend at Soldier Field, but SportsFest officials have designed a way for fans to experience the best of both worlds by offering a reciprocal program in which people who attend the Expo can present their ticket stubs at SportsFest and buy one admission and receive the second ticket free of charge.
"If you're going to have a show in Chicago on a summer weekend, you're probably always going to be up against a major attraction of some kind," said Dean Listle, sports group publisher for F+W Publications. "Over the years, we've gone up against events ranging from Taste of Chicago to air shows, to the Cubs-White Sox interleague battles. But it's not like we're an unproven commodity. With 10 years in this market, we've built up a customer base of our own."
In addition to an impressive autograph lineup and more than 250 of the top sports memorabilia dealers in the country, F&W Publications officials will also be offering up a variety of free giveaways at its booth to say thanks to all of the show attendees.
Upper Deck is offering a redemption card program at the show which SportsFest workers will fulfill at the F&W booth (No. 700, just to the right of the main entrance). The base set includes Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Patrick Kane, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brian Urlacher, Jonathan Toews, Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, Devin Hester, LeBron James and Sidney Crosby. The autographed UD Signings cards include Derek Jeter, Jonathan Toews, Kobe Bryant, Ken Griffey Jr., LeBron James, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Jordan, Mike Singletary, Patrick Kane, Peyton Manning, Sidney Crosby and Tom Brady.
SportsFest is also bringing back "What's it Worth Day," taking place 1-5 p.m. on Saturday. Bob Lemke, former editor of The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, and SCD'sChris Nerat will give free card and memorabilia appraisals. Also remember to stop by the F&W Publications booth (No. 700) to register win some great prizes including: (2) Chicago Blackhawks tickets, (3) sets of four Schaumburg Flyers tickets, (2) Alex Rodriguez signed mini helmets, (5) Hall of Fame signed mini football helmets, (3) NHL McFarlane Figures and an NHL 2K8 Playstation 2 video game which will be given out as part of Tuff Stuff's Sports Collectors Monthly's SportsFest Crossword Trivia Contest. For more information on the show, click here.
Another factor that should help the show this year is that more collectors realize the event is now being held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, as opposed to the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, where SportsFest was held for nine years. "For this only being our second year at the convention center, it's amazing how great the dealer response has been," said Dean Listle, sports group publisher for F+W Publications. "We have never hosted an event in a better building than the Renaissance. Right down to the convention food and the free parking, everything about the location is very impressive."
Mounted Memories is handling the autograph lineup for the show. More than 35 autograph guests will be on hand. Chicago-area autograph guests include Mike Singletary, Paul Konerko, Ron Kittle, Jermaine Dye, Nick Swisher, Buddy Ryan and others, in addition to Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez of the Big Red Machine. "Not only do we have headlining guests, but we are also offering $15 autographs on select guests, so there's something for everyone," Listle said.