Everything You Need To Know About The 2023 National

July 24, 2023

The 43rd National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) is just around the corner. From July 26th through July 30th, some of the most passionate sports card dealers, fans, and collectors from around the world will meet in Rosemont, IL to buy, sell and trade pieces of their collection.

Cardlines brings you this guide to 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention.

Background on the National Sports Collectors Convention

The first-ever NSCC was held in 1980 by a group of collectors who gathered in a small hotel ballroom at the Los Angeles International Airport Marriott. Since then, it has met annually and has become known as the premier showcase of the collectibles industry.

The convention moves around the country so that everyone can contribute. Not only will sports fans find sports cards, but they’ll also find autographs and other related memorabilia up for sale.

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Is the National Sports Collectors Convention worth attending?

Yes, it’s worth attending for a variety of reasons.

But first, I’ll say this: if your only concern is making money off cards, or buying cards cheap, then this event may not be the best opportunity. You might get some good deals from the NSCC, but you’re still paying for admission, travel, lodging, and other traveling expenses.

But the NSCC isn’t only about making money—not to the people there. It’s more than that. NSCC is an opportunity to see some of the biggest dealers, card companies, graders, and more all in one place. It’s a place to catch up with old collecting friends and make new ones.  

While the collectors are always looking to haggle and make deals, the charm of the convention is the way you get to connect with other collectors across the country as you move cards or build out your collection.

For that reason alone, every passionate collector should attend at least once.

How to attend

To attend, you’ll need a ticket.

There are three types of tickets: general admission, VIP, and Super VIP. As of this writing, Super VIP tickets are already sold out. General Admission tickets cost $25 if you order online and $30 on-site (if available), and general admission tickets are good for one day only, but any day of the week. You can order yours here. And don’t forget, children under 12 get in free.

The other travel recommendation to know is hotel rooms can be acquired at a discounted rate through Conference Housing, the Official Housing Bureau of The National Sports Collectors Convention. Learn more about contacting them here.

How to sell cards

Selling cards at the NSCC is challenging because it means getting a booth, and those are in hot demand. According to the website, “The National has sold out of booth space for the last several years. ”

If you’re interested, take a look at a list of 2023 dealers or the 2023 floorplan.

How to buy cards

Buying cards is easy. Most booths will let you pay with a credit card or PayPal, but cash is still king of the convention.

It’s also often possible to trade for cards, but that’s strictly up to the dealer. However, it never hurts to ask.

Be prepared to make lots of offers. At a convention like the NSCC, price tags are more like… suggestions. A few dealers might be strict about the price tag, but you’ll find many more that would instead work with you on price. Some dealers won’t even have price tags on their cards, as it’s a lot of work to keep pricing up-to-date on a large inventory. 

And here’s a good tip to keep in mind: real collectors are passionate sports fans. It’s a different scene than the typical retail kiosk.

So if you can chat, shake hands, swap stories, and bond, not only might the prices come down a bit, but you might also make a friend in the hobby.

Tips for the National Sports Collectors Convention

If this is your first convention, here are some tips to keep in mind to make sure it goes flawlessly.

Pro tips for the National Sports Collectors Convention #shorts

Dress comfortably

Whether you’re going for five days or just one, remember that this will be a busy convention where you’ll be on your feet for long periods. Dress appropriately. This isn’t a corporate conference—it’s a room of collectors! Rock your favorite team’s jersey if that’s your thing. That might even get you some better prices at some booths (and hurt you at others).

Bring cash

As mentioned earlier, PayPal and credit cards are often accepted, but cash is the preferred means of transaction at the NSCC. So bring as much cash as you are comfortable carrying. By helping dealers avoid Paypal and Credit Card processing fees, you may get yourself a better price

Make sure you have time

There is a lot to see and do at the convention. From autograph signings featuring some legendary sports icons (and more than a few actors and other celebrities) to interesting booths and activities, it’s too much to experience in one day. If you can only make it for one day, don’t let that stop you, but go in with a plan so you can see as much as possible. 

In addition to dealer tables, you’ll find representatives from card companies, plus most of the leading grading companies will be on-site accepting grading submissions, sometimes at special show rates. 

Bring a list

If you have anything you’re particularly looking for, it’s a good idea to list what those items are so you don’t get distracted by everything else. Sure, maybe you’ll see something on your list you really need or is a great price, but having a record of what you want and what it’s worth to you will help you maintain your focus

Bring a backpack

Once you buy cards, you need a place to put them. A backpack is a good approach—particularly one that includes an 800-count bock and some penny sleeves for any loose cards you buy. Make sure to find some good penny sleeves.

Also, as expected for a convention full of people walking around with wads of cash, the food is expensive, so it’s not a bad idea to bring a few snacks and water.

Know before you go

A little prep goes a long way towards an enjoyable and convention. Before you go, know what events are going on, what the show hours are, who the autograph guests are, and review the NSCC FAQ’s

Find the promos

Card manufacturers love to get involved with the NSCC. Therefore, they run promos throughout the show. So be on the lookout for some cool prizes such as rare cards. These can range from scavenger hunts to anything else Panini or Topps dreams up, and while there’s no early information about what it might look like this year, go prepared for something.

Be excellent to each other

Like any other event that’s full of people, there’s a chance for conflict, but also the chance for good. Go in looking to make someone’s day. If you see an aging collector who you can help by stepping out of the way, be kind. If you see a kid, it might make their day if you hand them a few cards from that pack you just ripped. 

Haggle with dealers, sure, but remember they’re trying to make a living and are paying for the table and other expenses at the show. Reward those dealers who are kind and patient with your business, and leave those who aren’t for someone else. 

The NSCC will draw people from around the country (and beyond) from all walks of life, but the one unifying theme is that everyone there is a collector of sports cards of some kind. Use that common ground to make your visit more enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you. 

The final word on the 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention

A trip to the NSCC is well worth the price of admission for any collector who’s looking for a fantastic experience. So stick to the pointers in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to an awesome weekend.

National Sports Card Show Frequently Asked Questions

When is the 2023 National Sports Card Show?

The 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention will be held from July 26th to July 30th, 2023. Hours will be 4-8 PM on Wednesday, 10 AM to 6 PM on Thursday through Saturday and 10 AM to 5 PM on Friday.

Where is the National Sports Card Show being held for 2023?

The NSCC will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL (outside Chicago).

How can I get tickets for the 2023 National?

You can purchase tickets for the 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention via the website. General admission, VIP packages and 5-day Early Entry passes are available while supplies last.

How much do 2023 National Tickets cost?

NGCC attendees can purchase general admission tickets for $25 per day while an Early Entry Pass is $149 and an All Access VIP Pass is $169. Buy your tickets soon, as many tickets for the 2023 National are beginning to sell out.