The future of American Numismatic Association conventions dominated discussion at the Oct. 13 ANA board budget meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Executive Director Larry Shepherd gave the board major points to consider over the next three months, including
• Hold three ANA conventions each year, up from two.
• Designate three-city rotations or establish permanent show sites.
• Sponsor offical pre-ANA shows.
The ANA currently receives 54 percent of its annual revenue from bourse fees and the sale of auction rights, Shepherd told the board.
But it is going to be increasingly difficult to maintain that percentage, he said, because conditions that prevailed from the 1960s-1990s no longer exist.
“We (the hobby/industry) won’t have 11 major coin shows per year in five years,” he said.
Shepherd was emphatic that he wanted the ANA shows to survive in the top tier and through some version of the options he listed for the board, he thought this can be achieved.
Shepherd was scathing in his criticism of privately run pre-ANA shows and auctions.
They “leach off of our efforts ... It angers me and offends me,” Shepherd said.
He suggested setting up an official ANA pre-show as part of the World’s Fair of Money effort in Chicago in 2011 and at other shows going forward.
It would run Friday to Monday preceding the show and be open only to dealers, who would be able to set up at their tables just once for the pre-show and ANA convention.
Shepherd said the cost to the ANA for nine days rather than six at the convention center was the same and other costs would be low enough that the ANA could actually sell its bourse tables at the pre-show event for less than a promoter of a privately run event held elsewhere.
Shepherd also proposed the ANA:
• Sell rights to the pre-show auction or auctions.
• Close the bourse at 5:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. for the entire week to “try to eliminate the conflict between the bourse and the auction.”
• Eliminate Sunday show hours.
“Close the show on Saturday night. No Sunday. Everyone could go home comfortably,” he explained.
Shepherd then zeroed in on the selection of future sites.
“It is a flawed process,” he said. “We need to change,” he added.
Selection of bad sites means the ANA was “not listening, not caring or not competent,” Shepherd said. “This has done us irreparable harm.”
The current site selection process has caused the spring National Money Show to fall to second-tier status, he said, noting that last year’s Phoenix event lost $150,000.
Future sites must meet three objectives:
• Offer sufficient facilities to host attendant club meetings and hobby events.
• Be in a city known as a good bourse town.
• Be in a city that the major numismatic auction firms regard as good auction cities.
Good bourse towns mean having major jet service because dealers cannot carry their inventory with them onboard regional jets. They simply will not come, Shepherd said.
Meeting all three requirements drastically narrows the number of possible cities to host conventions.
So Shepherd’s first option, which was to do the same thing as in the past, is not an option.
The second option is to move to a three-year rotation for both the spring National Money Show and the summer World’s Fair of Money.
For example, he offered warm cities of Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix for spring shows and Baltimore, Chicago and Denver for the summer.
As a variation, this option could be expanded to a four-year cycle where the three anchor cities remain the same but in the fourth year the city changes.
Another variation is to add a third annual show in the fall. This could be a Denver-Pittsburgh rotation, or it could be permanently placed in Denver, Shepherd explained.
The downside to rotations is the ANA cannot brand cities as Whitman has branded Baltimore, Shepherd said, and that took him to his third major option.
Go to a set schedule of permanent show sites.
Hold a spring show in Phoenix, summer show in Chicago and a fall show in New York or Boston, or go to Atlanta, Chicago and Denver for the annual cycle, Shepherd said.
The cities he cited were examples of the concept, not fixed choices should this option be adopted.
He said permanent locations had the benefit of maximizing the organization’s clout in negotiating with convention centers and hotels and they reduce the high cost of decorator expense, floor plans and shipping of materials to ever changing locations. Many convention resources could simply be stored in the city where they are used annually and eliminate shipping costs completely. Storage costs, Shepherd noted, are far cheaper than shipping costs.
“I like this option a lot,” Shepherd said. “We would brand three cities as our own.”
Board members expressed some concerns and reservations right off the bat, but Shepherd said discussions should be ongoing in the coming two or three months because, “It is the most important decision we are going to make” during the two-year term of the present board.
When the time comes, he said, he hopes the board will “make a unified decision. No matter what is decided, some won’t like it.”