'We're paid less than minimum wage' for running tournaments, says East Coast Throwdown's SweetJohnnyCage

Posted by Jonathan 'Catalyst' Grey • June 25, 2013 at 8:50 p.m. PDT
'We're paid less than minimum wage' for running tournaments, says East Coast Throwdown's SweetJohnnyCage Offering a very illuminating look at the financial aspect of running a tournament in the fighting game community, John "SweetJohnnyCage" Gallagher recently spoke at length on the subject, saying that when everything is accounted for, he and his team are making less than minimum wage.

Gallagher is an experienced tournament organizer, hosting fighting game competitions since 2006, and running a well trafficked major every year in New Jersey, with the help of L.I. Joe, under the name of East Coast Throwdown.

The amount of money tournament organizers in the FGC are making recently came into question, and Gallagher offered up a lot of information on the subject, giving specific details about their bills, time invested and quite a bit more.

If you've ever wondered what kind of cash tournament organizers have to put out for these events, you should definitely check this out. Hit the jump to read everything.

Being transparent is what we already do. If someone comes up to me and asks how much a ballroom costs, this costs, that costs, I'm very open with them. I'll tell you right now we paid $4,250 just for the space [at East Coast Throwdown] this year, but we also paid $500 for the screen, another $500 for wires/cabling (even at a MASSIVE discount since we're friends with the owner of a cabling company), $1,500 in rooms, the pallets that Mad Catz had delivered we were charged for, $1,000 for a single 10Mb internet connection (which we sneakily split using a 4 port switch that we hid under the stage to save and extra $3,000).

So that's $7,750 right there. JDCR's plane ticket was $1,300 (he won Final Round, the prize was sponsored by The Fall Classic, which we run). $9,000 so far. I'm still paying off the $8,000 I spent in systems & monitors from last year. That's more of an investment that benefits us long term, so I don't exactly count that. Oh, we also pay $500 for an additional power drop in the ballroom to avoid blown fuses like at ECT3. There's other small costs that I'm sure I'm forgetting, which rounds it off to $11,000+ or so. And that's just costs.

Our profit isn't as easy as "Add up the venue fees" as some say. We also spend a few hundred in food and drinks over the weekend for staff. Let's not forget PayPal's near 3-5% on registrations (it's a % on the total transaction, which includes the $10 entry that contributes to the prize, which we then cover ourselves as to not cheat people out of money). Our hosting is about $150 a year with domain service.

Now take all the time we put into the event beforehand. We work our regular jobs, plan ECT during those jobs (I'm just now catching up on backed work from before Final Round), as well as after those jobs at night. Staff meetings, Skype meetings, floor plans, power plans, all that goes on for months before the event. Add up all the hours we put into it, combined with the 60 hours of no-sleep from Friday to Monday morning, and we're paid less than minimum wage at the end of the weekend.

Source: NeoGAF.

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