PHILADELPHIA For a convention designed to help parents and coaches weather the sometimes-dangerous and competitive world of youth sports, a week of three snowstorms meant game over – or at least time-out.
Three South Jersey entrepreneurs who spent nearly two years planning a Philadelphia Sports & Education Expo that was to be held at the Convention Center over the weekend called off the three-day event because of the inhospitable weather.
Sherri Gold of Moorestown, who planned the event with her husband, Perry, and friend Marc Rosenthal of Haddonfield, said she was working on a new date, probably in late February or March. That runs the risk of another snowy day, but Gold said their target audience was too busy with spring, summer, and fall sports to attend a convention in a warmer season.
The expo was to include presentations on topics of interest to parents and coaches of young athletes – everything from head injuries and college scholarships to nutrition and hazing.
Gold said she grew worried that presenters, some of whom planned to travel from as far as Spain, would be stymied by grounded airplanes. Coaches and school athletic directors who missed work last Monday and Tuesday because of snow days told her they might not be able to take the day off on Friday for the professionals-only first day of the expo. And parents and young athletes might not want to hop in the car on a snowy Saturday and Sunday, Gold figured.
"It was based, first and foremost, on everyone's safety," she said. "This whole show is coming from a parent's perspective: mine. I know if I'm sitting there, I want to take my kids, but I know those roads are icy. I'm thinking to myself as a mom, I really don't want to bundle my kids up and take them out in these conditions."
On Tuesday, before the decorators could start assembling booths and the exhibitors could start mounting their displays, she made the call to postpone.
Of more than 100 exhibitors, only two have asked for refunds so far, Gold said, and she hopes most of the others – even celebrity presenters Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill – will participate when the expo is finally held.
The insurance the organizers bought will not cover the postponement because it was their choice to pull the plug - rather than a forced cancellation by, for instance, a closed Convention Center.
Gold said the only major loss was the stack of 5,000 programs already printed at a cost of about $6,000 that will need to be replaced. She said the deposits they made for food service and use of the convention hall could be used later.
About 3,000 people had registered for the event, at a cost of $20 per adult and $10 per teenager, Gold said. With walk-in traffic, perhaps some drawn by the Army-Navy Game on Saturday, she had hoped to attract as many as 10,000 attendees.
She remains confident the rescheduled event will draw thousands. "We had a really super response, considering it's a first-time event," Gold said. "What we are providing is really needed. It's a thing that people are really interested in. It's a hot topic for sports today."