|Wish I'd gone when it was in my backyard...|
Now that I'm looking at lodging and associated costs, the outlook is less rosy.
Why lodging, when the venue is all of 20 miles from my house? Two reasons: traffic and sleep. Events start at 9 am, so to drive there from home means going into the teeth of rush hour (which lasts all day really) and would require leaving the house at probably 7:30, if not earlier, to arrive by 9. With the second tournament of the day running until a little after midnight, I'd be looking at getting home around 1. That's doable on the sleep front, but would have me running on less-than-standard rations, which is a recipe for disaster when combined with competitive play. There's also the over-night tournaments (which I don't plan on attending anyway, but they're there) plus the Iron Arena to consider, either of which I could be doing instead of driving or sitting in traffic.
So that means hotel. Rooms run $85 a night (which I guess is reasonableish? I don't travel much), so that's ~$250 for Thursday-Saturday. If I can find someone to split a room with then it's a more reasonable $125. Then there's four days worth of parking ($12.50 per, so $50 total), though I could probably con a ride to and from out of someone. They're doing a breakfast and lunch package (delivered to your table maybe? looks to avoid lines at the least) at ~$60 for Friday-Sunday. I'd class all these as essentials, so the total is at ~$360 (assuming I don't find a roomie). That's a significant bump in cost over the $60 entry, which is not included in the above essentials.
Then we get to periphery. There's a VIP swag bag that looks like a great deal for $75 with some very appealing items, with the KR backpack (can't find a direct link, it's the double-wide backpack) leading the way for this gamer in particular. The bag itself is $75 retail, so you get all the other stuff for free if you want to look at it that way, except that the bag needs trays. Cost on those is ~$80, which makes the deal look not as shiny. I've been meaning to get a bag for my Legion though, and have looked at KR previously, so this would be a good opportunity to jump in.
What's the final tally I'm currently debating with myself? Approximately $575 with all the bells and whistles (including getting trays for the KR bag). This is a considerable amount of money for me and is about ten times what I started off with (just the entry fee). Can you put a price on convenience, sleep, and dodging traffic? If so, is that price $500? I'm not sure it is. There's plenty of fat to trim (VIP swag, Thursday night, food package), but there's also the dealer room to consider. I'm sure there will be lots of shiny stuff there, quite possibly at an attractive discount.
Going into this, my first con experience, I didn't expect to do things on a shoe-string budget. Working the calculator today has been a bit of a rude awakening though, so perhaps some adjustments are in order. At least I have a couple months to ponder/prepare.