With an autograph lineup that featured Peyton Manning, his father, Archie, and younger brother Eli huddling up for a first-ever public signing, the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend version of the famed Chicago Sun-Times Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., drew a record crowd on Saturday and solid turnouts all three days.
In a unique collaboration between Steiner Sports and Mounted Memories that inked the Super Bowl MVP Manning to an exclusive autograph deal earlier this year, the presence of the three Mannings, more than a dozen baseball, football, basketball and hockey hall of famers and a sterling lineup of Chicagoland favorites from all four major sports helped pull a huge crowd to the popular Sun-Times Show.
“This was our biggest Saturday ever,” said the show’s promoter, George Johnson. “I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get all the people in,” Johnson added. “The autograph pavilion was jammed; we’ve never had a bigger crowd in my 17 years, and it’s all because of Peyton and Urlacher.”
Mitch Adelstein, president of Mounted Memories, echoed that sentiment. “It’s the best show in the country. The turnout overall was amazing; for a while the cops really struggled with the autograph lines on Saturday,” he added, noting that Friday evening was strong due to five members of the 1985 Bears, arguably the most beloved team in Chicago history.
“This is one of the great collector shows,” said veteran dealer Dick DeCourcy, who specializes in vintage cards. “This row of chairs has been filled virtually from the start of the show,” he said, pointing to the front of his table.
The show likely topped the November 2006 edition of the Sun-Times for total attendance, a similarly hectic weekend that produced an attendance estimate of more than 9,000.