At our last company meeting, huddled around the conference room table reminiscing about the history of the Athletic Business Show, we couldn't help but ask ourselves where the time has gone and marvel at the evolution of our annual show from its humble beginnings to where it is today. With the growing success of Athletic Purchasing and Facilities, it became clear that athletic, fitness and recreational professionals, as well as manufacturers around the world, needed an event where they could come together to share ideas, find solutions and drive the industry forward. The AP&F Facilities/Equipment Conference was born, providing a single event and educational platform designed to cultivate a strong sense of community within our industry. Join us on our trek down memory lane, as we recall some key moments over the past 35 years that have helped to shape today's AB Show and our industry:

1982
AP&F Facilities/Equipment Conference made its debut in a Chicago ballroom. With accessibility being a hot topic in the industry, the "People Traffic, Security and Emergency Precautions" seminar discussed what considerations make a facility accessible, safe and secure.

1987
Attendees learned about the biggest issues in the industry, from "Marketing Women's Sports" to "Realities of Drug Abuse in Athletics" seminar topics.

1992
Pay to play, ADA and the pros and cons of natural versus synthetic turf were among the topics included in 44 new seminars launched to meet the changing demands of a growing industry.

1998
The military began holding service meetings at what was then known as the Athletic Business Conference & Expo (ABC) and a Military Fitness and Sports seminar track was added.

2004
Medical Fitness Association (MFA) began co-locating with ABC. Baseball's Iron Man, Cal Ripkin Jr., was the keynote speaker.

2005
ABC reached a new record in exhibiting companies.

2007
With our highest attendance to date, 3,437 attendees learned about topics ranging from liability to sports nutrition, youth sports planning, programming and participation.

2008
National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) began co-locating with ABC, and the Excellence in Youth Sports awards program was launched in partnership between NAYS and AB. More than 350 athletic, fitness and recreation companies exhibited.

2013
Not two minutes into Magic Johnson's ABC keynote presentation, he hopped off the stage and started roaming the aisles, stopping to take pictures with attendees, introducing them and then continuing his talk.

2016
ABC made its rebranded debut as AB Show, adding the Innovation Station, an on-the-floor education hub for attendees to experience new solutions.

2017
AB Show returns to Orlando for the 18th time with preconference tours planned at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona and the Bryan Glazer JCC in Tampa, among others.


This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Athletic Business with the title "AB Show: 35 years advancing the industry." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.