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Brooklyn Puzzle Tournament [Jan. 25th, 2008|04:32 am]
For the first time in a while, I don't have a conflict the weekend of the Stamford Brooklyn Crossword Tournament. I thought perhaps I'd attend this year, after not having attended since 2004.

Except...in 2005, the registration fee was $175. Last year, it was $195. This year: $275. (Plus another hundred for two nights at the hotel, if I share a room with two other people; plus $80 or so for Amtrak tickets.)

I guess Brooklyn's bound to be more expensive than Stamford. But...$275 for a weekend's entertainment, Friday night to Sunday afternoon? The NPL convention is typically less than $200, and that's for 24 hours longer and includes much more of a chance to socialize with people. The difference, perhaps, is that the NPL convention doesn't have prize money—but then, I stand pretty much no chance of winning any prize money.

I'd head into the city, stay with friends, and just hang out at the hotel a little to see people, but it's been made pretty clear in years past that that's not acceptable. In the end, I suppose I could be convinced to come—but does anyone have a convincing argument? Right now, for all that I like the people I'd have a chance to hang out with, I'm not sure I can justify the expense.

From: ericberlin
2008-01-25 11:12 am (UTC)
I don't think the difference is the prize money, although that's probably a small factor. I think the key difference is the location -- renting out a Brooklyn hotel ballroom for three days cannot be cheap. There's a reason the last NPL con in the NYC area was held in Stamford, CT.

I'd say if you're inclined to come by to hang out with friends, then consider either the $150 tournament-only option, or even the $75 Friday-night option. Surely if you throw SOME kinda fee at the organizers, even if you take the cheapest possible route, they're not going to bark at you if you're still hanging around on Saturday.
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[User Picture]From: lunchboy
2008-01-25 02:14 pm (UTC)
Con was in Newark, you mean, not Stamford.

I like to think they wouldn't give someone a hard time about paying one of the smaller amounts, but after the year Sew Do I was told that she couldn't pay the noncompetitor fee because she wasn't accompanied by a competitor (they later adjusted the fees to a new price point to cover for this possibility, though their inflexibility at the time still seems inexplicable to me), I'm less confident. Not to dissuade you from coming -- I think Eric's suggestion is quite reasonable -- but it's unpredictable whether or not someone will give you a hard time about it.
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From: cecilmom
2008-01-25 02:16 pm (UTC)
Eric/Story's right. Go for one of the cheaper options. And here's a possibly convincing argument: Janders is coming! (With Squonk and me, but who cares about us? Janders, however, is fantastic company. :)
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[User Picture]From: toonhead_npl
2008-01-25 03:38 pm (UTC)
I've always wondered about something: what would happen if you only paid for the tournament but were up for a trophy on Sunday? Do you just sit outside until everyone's done eating?
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[User Picture]From: stellavision
2008-01-25 04:43 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking about testing that theory out this year. Really, $75 for lunch is ridiculous -- you can get a fabulous Vietnamese hoagie for $5 just a few blocks away. I'm seriously considering buying the hoagie (which will taste better than anything the Marriott has to offer) and hanging out in the back of the room as awards are announced.
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[User Picture]From: qaqaq
2008-01-25 09:24 pm (UTC)
I just confirmed with Will that tournament + evening entertainments, but no lunch (which is not a combo mentioned on the order form), is $225, so I'll be doing that. He did say there's no problem entering the awards ceremony after the meal part is finished, so I won't have to send in a proxy to pick up my first-place silver bowl. :-)
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[User Picture]From: jydog1
2008-01-25 03:57 pm (UTC)
whatever you decide, you're welcome to crash with us in the 'burbs if you need a place (train to PATH to subway would get you to Brooklyn). You like babies squalling at 4am, right?
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-01-25 04:54 pm (UTC)
I have to be anonymous, but you know me.

The sponsors are presumably providing prize money (otherwise, what are they providing?), so I don't think that's the difference between Stamford and the NPL.

The Stamford ballroom was provided for free because of the number of room nights sold. Perhaps Brooklyn is charging at least some amount for it, though you'd think it wouldn't be much, given the number of people involved.

There are some expenses with the event (printing, postage, puzzles, hotel rooms for judges) but it is really hard to see where all the money is going. Given the very low prize amounts (first place in C only wins a fraction of their entry fee back!), it would be really nice if the finances were more transparent. It's hard not to come to the conclusion that the great majority of the money ends up in Will's pocket, which just looks greedy given how few options there are for similar events.

Some will argue that if the market can bear it, it's not too high. But I know a LOT of people right now who are trying to decide whether a weekend with their friends is worth paying Will far too much money for too little entertainment in return.
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[User Picture]From: stellavision
2008-01-25 05:18 pm (UTC)
I do think the Brooklyn Marriott is probably charging a substantial amount. Unlike Stamford, the market for weddings in Brooklyn is HUGE, and I'm sure the Marriott could rent out those ballrooms, even on a cold weekend in February/March, for at least two of the three days we'll be there (and would fill up the rooms with wedding guests and other travelers who want to save a bit vis-a-vis Manhattan hotels).

That said, I'm still annoyed by the 40% price increase. Yuck.
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[User Picture]From: leighjen
2008-01-25 05:44 pm (UTC)
After spending time a few years ago looking at wedding venues, and having done a stint helping to setting up sales conferences for a tech firm, I think it is a good bet that the ballroom is free but the food is not. Also, I know that we would get a few free rooms when we booked a ton of rooms.

I think that the hotel will make more than enough money to cover missing a wedding or two.
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[User Picture]From: cazique
2008-01-25 09:46 pm (UTC)
We filled the Stamford ballroom to the gills at least the last few years, and the hotel had skyrocketing attendance trends to depend upon for room-nights. The Brooklyn hotel, on the other hand, is much bigger, and has more chance of attracting a larger event. Not to mention the ballroom at Brooklyn is bigger, and we'll probably have fewer people staying at the hotel this year. (Fewer participants, and more from NYC/LI/NJ than there were from CT who are more likely to commute, especially given the higher cost per night.)

Also, the sponsors could just be providing books, additional $$ to keep costs down, etc.

All that said - I'm annoyed about the extra $$ as well. Though if I weren't involved in all this, and someone told me that "thing X" moved from Stamford Connecticut to New York City and increased in price by 40%... well, I can't say that, in and of itself, is necessarily surprising.

And yes, I agree with Stella about not only the vietnamese sandwich place(s), but also the other eleventy-pillion places she didn't mention around the neighborhood to get a decent lunch for a reasonable price. I'd much rather pay $100 for 1/3 of a hotel room for two nights (even though I live like 5 minutes away, because of kids and sleep schedules and such) than for the meal. (On the other other hand, who knows - the meal might be good.)
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[User Picture]From: jon88
2008-01-26 04:13 pm (UTC)
Last year I predicted that 2008 tournament attendance would be around 400 people, based on time of year, cost of hotel and attrition (all those newbies who, having had the experience, wouldn't feel the need to repeat it). Given this information, I now suspect my prediction was too high.
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[User Picture]From: elainetyger
2008-02-02 06:51 am (UTC)
We had to have the 2001 NPL Con in Newark instead of anywhere in NYC because we couldn't get a room rate under $200 a night at anywhere with a ballroom big enough to seat 150 people in rounds of 10. Including the Brooklyn Marriott. Will did get a lower room rate, so maybe they are charging him for the ballroom.

I am sad that the prices are so high, especially for noncompetitors. There will be people like my coworker Sarah, who lives in Brooklyn and takes all week to do the Sunday NYT puzzle but adores it and would love to come by Friday or Saturday night, who won't be able to go. I mentioned this to Will privately and he said we could work something out if money was the only obstacle, but so far she seems uncomfortable with any kind of special treatment.

What happened with Sew Do I was pretty terrible, and I think the people involved would not act the same way again.

The hotel lobby is a public place. Buy something at the gift shop. Come play games Saturday night if nothing else. Does it matter if someone gives you a hard time? I would give a hard time right back if I was doing what I thought was acceptable.
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