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If you go: National Sports Collectors Convention admission, hours, packages

July 24, 2018

If you go: National Sports Collectors Convention admission, hours, packages

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Here’s what to know about the National Sports Collectors Convention, coming to Cleveland:

What is it?

It’s an annual national convention of all things sports collectible: Trading cards from all eras and memorabilia, from rare rookie cards in mint condition to lesser-known players. Game-used uniforms, posters, signs, equipment – almost anything with a team nickname or player’s name from any era can be found. More than 650 exhibitors (individuals, auction-house reps and manufacturers) are scheduled to attend. The conventions rotate between more than a dozen cities. It attracted more than 43,000 people in 2014, the last time it came to Cleveland.

When is it?

Wednesday-Sunday, Aug. 1-5. Hours: 4-8 p.m. Wednesday (sneak peek), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Where is it?

The International Exposition Center is at 1 I-X Center Dr., next to, and just south of, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

How much do I have to pony up to get in?

Many packages exist. Advance general admission is $19 ($22 on site). Kids 12 and under get in free every day.

VIP tickets: $139 advance ($149 on site), allows admission to all five days. Includes gift package, 12 selected free VIP autographs, daily half-hour early admission and use of the VIP lounge.

Super VIP package: $199 advance ($209 on site), allows admission to all five days. Includes double VIP gift package, autograph tickets to all 18 free VIP signers, daily half-hour early admission, use of the VIP lounge, commemorative hat and parking pass.

All Access VIP package: $259. Includes admission to all five days, VIP gift package, 12 selected free VIP autographs, half-hour early admission, use of the VIP lounge, early-in-line privileges, photo opportunities, additional benefits.

All Access Super VIP package: $309. Includes admission to all five days, double VIP gift package, autograph tickets to all 18 free VIP signers, early half-hour admission, use of the VIP lounge, commemorative hat, parking pass, early-in-line privileges, photo opportunities, additional benefits.

Ticket packages are online.

What’s the deal on autographs?

More than 140 athletes – including dozens of Hall of Famers - and entertainers will sign. Pricing is a la carte, but a couple of packages exist. Note: Athletes are available by time slots, so checking the schedule is important. Half the list is composed of football players.

Platinum express pass is $699; it does not include general admission. It includes line and authentication privileges as well as any-item autograph tickets for Jim Thome, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Sr. and Robert Brazile.

Authentication tickets are $4.50-$8.50. (Take your signed item and authentication ticket to a booth as you exit the autograph pavilion. A TriStar representative will add a hologram and register it at tristarauthentic.com.)

Individual autograph tickets range considerably. A couple (George Foster, Jack Youngblood) start at $10 but many have a price range beginning at $39. Most have stipulations for premium items, inscriptions and photo opps.

There’s even an option if you can’t attend the show. Mail-order availability for some autographs is available.

Parking?

$10.

What about the charity auction?

An auction will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Cleveland. Manufacturers and booth dealers are contributing items, said Ray Schulte, the show’s director of communications.

“We’ve never done anything to give back to the community in such a degree,” he said. “We had a blood drive in Chicago, but it wasn’t really us; we just allowed them to come in. I wanted to be more proactive. I wanted to create an opportunity to give back to the community. It’s something that hits the hearts of all of our exhibitors. It’s a way of saying thank you to Cleveland for all of their support.”

He added: “It’s like anything else. You go into a city like Cleveland and they treat you great and you want to give something back.”

Claire Anter-Vanidestine, director of marketing for the I-X Center, welcomes the show’s philanthropic component.

“Ray was invested in this city from day one - I think this year more than ever,” she said. “The Ronald McDonald House – that is huge. They have donated a nice amount of money now and will raise more. They can bring in anyone, a national charity, but ... they are focusing on Cleveland.”

Next up

The National Sports Collectors Convention, which was in Chicago last year, will return to the Windy City in 2019. In 2020 it will be in Atlantic City, N.J.

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