By Ray Schulte, Schulte Sports Marketing and Public Relations – The National Sports Collectors Convention is returning to the Baltimore Convention Center Aug. 1-5, 2012. Mike Berkus, the founder and executive director of The National, said he and his team were excited to bring the 33rd National to Charm City, the site of the 2010 show, after a successful 2011 convention in Chicago. I talked to Berkus about the show’s return and his expectations for the event.
Ray Schulte: In 2010, you brought The National to Baltimore. Did the show meet your expectations?
Mike Berkus: Even with a strong sports fan and collectibles base, Baltimore was still a calculated risk when considering new cities to host our event. We’ve been very fortunate to have a long successful track record in so many other great cities. Having said that, Baltimore didn’t disappoint. Attendance exceeded our expectations and our exhibitors provided us with nothing but positive feedback, which enabled us to commit to a second Charm City appearance quicker than anticipated.
RS: What can fans can expect this year at the Baltimore Convention Center?
MB: With over 300,000 square feet, the Baltimore Convention Center will be transformed into a sports fan’s paradise. There will be 800 high-profile exhibitors from around the country, buying, selling and trading some of the most exciting and unique sports and entertainment memorabilia in existence. You’ll also find the collectible industry’s top auction houses, authentication and appraisal companies, along with all the licensed trading-card manufacturers.
RS: Who are some of the athletes scheduled to appear?
MB: Some of the greatest athletes ever to play the game are scheduled to appear. Approximately 80 athletes from every sport, including Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray, Emmitt Smith, Cal Ripken, Mariano Rivera, Barry Sanders, Gayle Sayers, Wes Unseld, Mike Tyson, Ron Turcotte, Reggie Jackson, John Havlicek, Gordie Howe and Pete Rose, to name just a few, will be featured this year.
RS: Do you have unique fan-related experiences incorporated into the show this year?
MB: We will have many great interactive and promotional giveaways in our 50,000-square-foot corporate sponsor pavilion. We are excited to have Fantasy Football Fest 2012 join us this year. They will be bringing in RotoExperts to provide football fans the ultimate fantasy football experience.
RS: Can you pre-purchase admission tickets online?
MB: Absolutely. We offer collectors and fans the opportunity to pre-purchase event admission tickets at nsccshow.com. We recommend looking at the value of our VIP ticket packages.
RS: What makes The National a can’t-miss event for Baltimore sports fans?
MB: The National will have the world’s greatest collection of vintage memorabilia and collectibles to buy, sell or trade. No other event in the country can bring the number of high-profile athletes to appear and sign for sports fans at one time. In addition, if you’re looking for a specific item for your collection or have a question concerning authenticity or need an appraisal, we have the best experts in the business exhibiting. Many say that if you can’t find it at The National, it probably doesn’t exist.