American Numismatic Association Executive Director Larry Shepherd was interviewed by David Lisot for about the ANA’s decision to base its summer World’s Fair of Money in Chicago.

Shepherd opens his remarks saying that “[this] is not a knee jerk reaction as some publications made it out to be.” He reiterated that this was a well thought process. The problem seems that each one of his arguments have answers that could be addressed with another perspective. Here are counters to two of his main points.

One of the factors Shepherd cites as a reason for Chicago being a good place for a coin show is the lack of other major coin shows in the area. It is interesting that the ANA did not consider the Chicago International Coin Fair (CICF) and Chicago Paper Money Expo (CPMX) major shows. CICF and CPMX have been held in the Rosemont area for a while and is now owned by Krause Publications, founded by Board of Governors member Chet Krause and where President Cliff Mishler was once CEO. In addition to CICF and CPMX, the Mid America Coin Expo was moved the Schaumburg in 2008 and starting next year, the Central States Numismatic Society moved their annual show to Rosemont for 2011 and Schaumburg for the succeeding five years.

Even if you discount the CSNS show because of timing, that is three major shows already in Chicago. Although Shepherd can argue that the World’s Fair of Money is a bigger show, it is probably the biggest coin show in North America, if not the world. So why not share the wealth with other cities?

The other issue that Shepherd brought up is that he said that (paraphrasing) an organization cannot call up a city and say you are bringing the world’s largest coin show to their city in a few years—tell the mayor. After consulting with someone in another industry confirmed what Shepherd said that cities are looking for a financial commitment. They want the organization to guarantee floor space (and associated rent) in the convention center and hotel usage that will represent the potential income from the various taxes governments charge.

Shepherd mentions that meeting the guarantees is becoming difficult because of online travel sites that undercut the prices agreed upon in the contract to use the city facilities. If the organization does not sell the minimum guaranteed rooms, the organization must make up the tax losses to the city. What Shepherd does not tell you is that an organization can negotiate this with the city. What he does say is that this is that this is not an issue in Chicago… except that the location is not in Chicago. The proposed location is in Rosemont, just east of Chicago O’Hare International Airport and 17 miles northwest of downtown Chicago. It is also a limited access area with a limited number of hotels nearby making guarantees unnecessary since most people going to the show will stay in a nearby hotel.

Rather than trying to negotiate with municipalities to host a show that does millions of dollars of business in addition to a multi-million dollar rare coin auction, Shepherd recommended this enclave outside of Chicago near the second busiest airport in the United States surrounded by suburbs and not exactly a tourist destination.

In the past, Shepherd discussed the scheduling and handling of the ANA shows so as to not lose money. One consideration was to find what he described as “a good bourse city” primarily to make the dealers happy. What he never mentioned is what would make the ANA collectors happy. Rather, Shepherd is saying that it is not enough to use what is probably the world’s largest numismatic show as the destination in different cities as outreach to its members and future members, the ANA, a non-profit organization, is using the show to make a profit and enforce profits for its dealers. I am for dealers making profits, but I am against this profit motive as a driving factor for the placement of the ANA convention.

The Chicagoland area is a wonderful place and Chicago is a great city. But to be the only area that the ANA uses for its premier convention is an insult to cities all over the country capable of hosting a successful show and an indictment on Shepherd’s inability to think creatively.

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