Thanks for the rant.
Firstly, I’m not a regular watcher of the show, but I followed along with the discussion on BPSO as it is a discussion we have been having here in NZ for some time.
Since we started tournaments in 2012, they’ve always been free to enter, with no prize money. On top, the host provided food (!!) and sometimes paid for the trophies as well.
What you find, in any social circle, is the same dudes do all the work, and the rest are happy to come along.
We have slowly evolved. Our smaller monthly events (30-40 people) are still free, but now everyone has to bring a plate, and there’s still no prize money.
The larger events (70-90 people) we have now started to charge an entry fee, to help cover costs. As an example, for the upcoming Southern Hemisphere Champs, the entry fee is $60 NZ ($40 US) and for that you get 2 1/2 days of pinball competitions, 20 sweet custom made trophies and 120 awesome pinballs to play on.
There is still no prize money. Winners get WPPRS, sexy trophies, and adoration from the public.
The entry fees go towards the costs of the event (extra toilets, power, trophies etc) and also towards the probably $5,000 a year it costs me in parts to keep all these antiques running. Let alone the 100s of hours of labour I do for nothing.
At the end of the day, you can’t keep expecting the same people to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to provide pinball for others to play. The novelty soon runs out, and there will be NO tournaments to go to.
In regards to prize money, I don’t know if the existing model is sustainable. Ever increasing costs for entries to make large prize pools will deter people from entering. Corporate sponsorship for prize money is the way to go - I had a beer company provide me a pallet of beer for my last tournament (beer prizes!) and I’m working on that for SHPC too. We are a small country, I can’t ask them for $10,000 cash, but I’ll happily take $2000 of beer to give away.
I applaud all the volunteers and directors that do their bit to make our hobby great.