Rosemont sports show brings stars to fans
It's a reason to dig that hockey puck out of the attic, pull that too-small Cubs jersey out of mothballs or even head over to the parents' house to look for an old baseball card collection.
Tickets are going on sale this month for autograph sessions with almost 100 former and current professional athletes at the 32nd National Sports Collectors Convention Aug. 3 to 7 at Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
It's a chance to make a piece of sports memorabilia a little more valuable and a whole lot cooler.
"There are several opportunities for sports fans to not only have something important to them signed by a sports figure, but meet and interact with them, too," said Jeff Rosenberg, president and CEO of TriStar Productions, the company organizing the autograph pavilion at the convention.
In addition to the autograph pavilion, the show includes more than 600 dealers and distributors, as well as 50-plus corporate displays.
"It's basically a traveling museum where guys have cards or whatever from the 1800s and early 1900s," said Tom Morgan, owner of the Naperville sports card shop Triple Crown Trading Co. "It's the biggest thing in sports collecting of the year. Even just to go and look at some of the stuff is exciting if you're a fan of vintage items."
Current Chicago baseball luminaries like Ozzie Guillen, Starlin Castro, Kerry Wood and Matt Garza are slated to be on hand one of the five days, along with their retired brethren Harold Baines, Rafael Palmeiro, Steve Stone and Bo Jackson. Additionally, Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar will be newly minted when they appear at the convention.
Former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi is expected to make an appearance. All sorts of athletes from other professional sports are scheduled to appear, including football Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Roger Staubach and John Elway.
"Roger Staubach is a pretty big deal because he's individually wealthy and rarely does these types of things," Rosenberg said.
The ticket prices for each sports figure will be posted May 27 on Rosenberg's company's website, tristarproductions.com. It will include times and dates of appearances for the sports celebrities. A growing list of sports stars is also featured on the site. The number of signers will increase up until about two weeks before the convention, Rosenberg said.
Prices vary based on the sports figure, what is being signed and how it is signed. For instance, Rosenberg said, an athlete may charge more for a bat or jersey to be signed than a baseball or card. It could also cost a little more for the athlete to sign it a certain way, like Hall of Famers identifying themselves as such or by their jersey number.
"Some people like that," Rosenberg said. "It's just more special that way."
But here's a tip from professional collectors: Unless you're planning on keeping the item being signed forever, don't have an athlete personalize it with your name.
"VIP packages" are also available for sale now that include entry fees, guaranteed signatures, special products only available at the convention and special access to certain areas. Prices range between $129 and $279 for those packages. Visit tristarproductions.com/National/nscc_packages_11.html to learn more about the deals.
A limited number of autograph tickets will be available for purchase, Rosenberg said. There are items available for purchase at the event, but fans can bring their own personal items with them to have signed as well, he added.
Rosenberg said lines at the autograph sessions move pretty quickly because the tickets are numbered. The average wait is about 20 minutes.
"It's controlled chaos, if you will," Rosenberg said.
32nd National Sports Collectors Convention32nd National Sports Collectors Convention
When: Aug. 3-7
Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont
Tickets and special packages: $18-$279
Details and celebrities: nsccshow.com
Autograph information: tristarproductions.com/National/index.html