This post may contain eBay affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
The 41st National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) takes place at the Atlantic City Convention Center in New Jersey. Known as the National, the 2020 event runs July 29 to August 2, and it’s almost sold out already.
The NSCC gives collectors, dealers, investors, distributors, manufacturers, licensors and everyone else the chance to mix it with some of the biggest names in the business.
They took the time to address the COVID-19 outbreak in a recent update in March 2020:
“There are no plans to cancel/reschedule the 41st National Sports Collectors Convention at this time. We will continue to listen to Federal and State Guidelines before making a decision regarding what steps to take next. Alternative plans are being addressed by show management should the original dates be deemed unsafe for our attendees and exhibitors. We will provide more information as we get closer to the event.”
It shows that they’re taking the threat seriously, as it could be dangerous to have that many people in such a confined space during an ongoing pandemic. At worst, they’ll probably delay the 2020 event until the situation is completely under control.
As it’s not set to take place until late in July, it’s difficult to predict what will happen in the meantime, but the Chicago Sports Spectacular was canceled in mid-March due to the governor’s decision to cancel all events with 1,000 or more people in attendance.
For now, for anyone with a passing interest in collecting trading cards, autographs and other related memorabilia here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 National.
National 2020: Show Information
A five-day bonanza for collectibles, you can check the floor-plan for the event here. It’s currently scheduled to take place from Wednesday, July 29 to Sunday, August 2 between the following times;
- Wednesday, July 29 (4 PM – 8 PM) *Sneak Peek*
- Thursday, July 30 (10 AM – 6 PM)
- Friday, July 31 (10 AM – 6 PM)
- Saturday, August 1 (10 AM – 6 PM)
- Sunday, August 2 (10 AM – 5 PM)
You’ll be able to find out more about admission fees & VIP packages on their website, including direct links to purchase a ticket. Pricing is as follows;
- Children (12 and under): Free all week
- General Admission: $19/day in advance, $22/day at the show
- VIP Package: $139 in advance, $149 at the show
- Super VIP Package: $199 in advance, $209 at the show
- All-Access VIP: $269 in advance, $279 at the show
- All-Access Super VIP: $319 in advance, $329 at the show
It’s best to get your ticket in advance, especially if you want to avoid any potential lines when you get there. You’ll also be able to move around more freely before everyone else begins to pile in behind you.
The Atlantic City Convention Center is massive, built on a 31-acre lot (500,000 sq ft). It’s one of the largest on the East Coast, and it’ll be packed with thousands of dealers and collectors over the five-day period. Atlantic City last hosted the event back in 2016.
There are a number of hotels in the city that have discounted rates for National visitors, although they’ve warned about a ‘travel scam’ that has targeted a number of 2020 attendees;
“A company from Las Vegas is calling on our exhibitors and attendees to book hotel rooms for Atlantic City. Please be aware that Conference Housing is the only approved agency for the National. You do not have to prepay your entire hotel bill in full. Cancellations for your booking are 72 hours prior to arrival.”
They’ve already confirmed dates and venues for the next three years, with the 2023 National scheduled for the Donald E Stephens Convention Center.
2020 National: Highlights
In case you’re still in doubt, here’s a list of things to do while you’re at the 2020 National.
There’s the chance to win exclusive cards from one of the many companies in attendance, and you’ll also be able to meet some of the biggest and best-known collectors. As well as exclusive cards, there are lots of goodie bags and other free items on offer.
It’s an opportunity to check out rare and expensive cards in the flesh, and it beats using an online auction if you’re aiming to add a collectible or two to your collection. The same is true for selling, as there’s nowhere better to find a potential buyer for the premium cards in your collection.
You can search through the full list of confirmed dealers that are attending the 2020 National here.
Expect to see everything from live podcasts to box breaks if you decide to go to the live event, while there are different guests and stores depending on which day/s you attend. It’s a good idea to try and plan out your day in advance, while you should avoid spending all of your money at once, no matter how shiny the collectible is.
There’s also a VIP lounge, although you will have to pay extra to experience the high life. As well as free parking, you’ll get free autographs and a range of other smaller perks. Line priority for autograph guests is also a good benefit if you want to get more than a few signatures, and don’t want to be stuck waiting around.
Both of the major professional grading companies will also be there. They have free drop-off facilities, while Beckett and PSA have quick turnaround times depending on how much you’re willing to spend, including same-day service. For example, PSA has a two-hour express service which is available for an additional fee, and they’re offering a $10 autograph authentication special for any show signer signature obtained from the 2020 National.
The Autograph Pavilion
As the name suggests, the autograph pavilion is one of the best places to meet sporting legends to get signed memorabilia and photos. (However, it is advisable to get there as early as possible, especially if you want multiple signatures.)
Names confirmed for 2020 include basketball legend Bernard King, former WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, baseball’s Jeff Bagwell and Roberto Alomar, football’s Jim Kelly and Larry Csonka, along with many more that can be found here. Other big names include Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, Dan Marino and Reggie Jackson.
Remember, the line up is always subject to change, (more so with the ongoing virus) so check back with Tristar regularly for updates on who’s willing to make the journey to Atlantic City.
With several “First Time National Appearance” guests, it would be a shame to see a drop in attendance, or for big names to pull out, but everything seems to be going ahead as planned for now. You’ll be able to buy autograph tickets in the weeks leading up to the 2020 National, while VIP packages also come with a number of free autographs.
You can learn more about the guest signers by visiting www.nsccshow.com/autograph-information.
For the best bargains, we’d recommend getting to the 2020 National as early as possible, with the ‘Sneak Peak’ on Wednesday being particularly good for finding deals. You could snag something before it reaches a table, and the majority of bargains are going to be picked up almost immediately by shrewd collectors. Alternatively, you could go towards the end of the final day or two, when sellers are likely to be more open to getting rid of their excess stock.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a discount, although there are limits! Some dealers will only accept cash, so you’ll probably need paper money while you’re inside to be safe. (You wouldn’t want to miss out on a great deal just because the vendor doesn’t accept card payments.)
It’s also worth doing the rounds properly, as there’s nothing worse than finding out you’ve overpaid for an item after heading to a new booth. However, given the sheer amount of dealers, prices are relatively low, and you should be able to find almost anything you want. After all, the National is one of the biggest events on the collectible calendar.
If you are planning on picking up a few signatures and collectibles, think about how you’re going to get them home in one piece. Bring cases for your new cards, or something protective if you’re buying multiple items. Take a bag to keep them safe throughout the day, and make sure to enjoy your time at one of the biggest card conventions in the world.
National Sports Collectors Convention P.O.Box 1031 Edison, NJ 08818