Super Bowl of sports memorabilia coming to Rosemont

  • The National Sports Collectors Convention returns to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center for a five-day run that begins Wednesday. About 40,000 collectors and sports fans are expected to attend.

    The National Sports Collectors Convention returns to Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Center for a five-day run that begins Wednesday. About 40,000 collectors and sports fans are expected to attend. Daily Herald File Photo, 2017

  • Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Dick Butkus

    Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Dick Butkus

  • New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

    New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

 
By Ross Forman
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 7/28/2019 5:08 PM

The Super Bowl of sports memorabilia is coming to Rosemont.

The 40th annual National Sports Collectors Convention opens its five-day run at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on Wednesday. About 40,000 people are expected to attend the show that features more than 600 exhibitor booths -- and an estimated 35,000 autographs will be signed by the near-140 sports celebrities and a few actors who are attending.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The Chicago market for sports memorabilia shows is, hands down, the best in the county," said Mike Vettraino, a New Jersey-based memorabilia enthusiast.

Known as "The National," the event has been held in Rosemont every other year since 2011. Overall, it has been held 13 times in the Chicago area -- more than in any other city. It returns to Rosemont in 2021 and 2023, organizers have announced.

The National's autograph pavilion will be one of the main draws, as the lineup of signers reads like a who's-who from the sports world. Confirmed signers include: 33 pro baseball Hall of Famers; 32 pro football Hall of Famers; pro hockey Hall of Famers such as Chris Chelios, Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull and Bret Hull; Hope Solo, the two-time Olympic gold medal-winning soccer goalie for Team USA; and William Shatner, the actor best known as Capt. Kirk in "Star Trek."

The top signers are expected to be recent Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Mariano Rivera, Vladimir Guerrero, Harold Baines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez and Trevor Hoffman, as well as pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan.

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"(Chicago is) a favorite location of both collectors and exhibitors who travel from near and far to buy-sell-trade their favorite collectible items," said Jeffrey Rosenberg, the president and CEO of Houston-based TRISTAR Productions, Inc. His company has been managing the autograph pavilion at The National since 2006.

Rosenberg, among others, also will be buying memorabilia at the convention -- and he said he is prepared to pay $1 million or more for collections and collectibles, particularly vintage and modern autographs from sports, entertainment and history.

All major card makers, such as Texas-based Panini America, will be on-site with popular redemption card giveaway promotions.

"I've been at every Chicago National and look forward to being there this year. Chicago doesn't disappoint; you see things you never see at any other show -- incredible, unique memorabilia and collectibles," said longtime Michigan-based dealer Mark Dehem.

Another show highlight is The Case Break Pavilion, which will host several events, such as a free autograph signing by former NFL star Drew Pearson, a Thursday session with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk talking about the hobby, and a Friday Q&A session with "Jeopardy!" champ James Holzhauer, formerly of Naperville. "The Great American Collectibles Radio Show" will broadcast live Friday afternoon, with hosts Tom Zappala and Rob Bertrand.

In addition, the Ripping Wax Case Break Pavilion will host the Signatures for Soldiers booth. Signatures for Soldiers obtains player autographs and sells them to the general public, with all proceeds going to the nonprofit Military Missions in Action, supporting disabled veterans.

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