Remington Steele: "That's what I like about you, Laura - you're always willing to put my neck on the line."
I've organised dozens of chess tournaments over the past 18 or so years, from local opens to international level events, and when it comes to setting prices, my experience is that there is always the difficulty of balancing entry fees for travellers, for whom the entry fee is a minor part of the cost, and locals, for whom the entry fee is most or all of the cost. It might be a good plan to talk to the locals directly about what they are willing to pay, as they are the ones who will be most sensitive to the entry fee and any increases.
Being open and transparent about the reasons for potential price increases is a good plan as it makes it much more community-inclusive, and really reiterates that this event is basically a not-for-profit event run by the Vintage community for the Vintage community. Sure, Nick might make a couple of bucks out of it if he's lucky, but he's not gouging anyone and organising and running large events is seriously time-consuming.
I also think that while you can guarantee some prizes, there's nothing wrong with setting prize bands so as the player numbers increase, the prize support will increase as laid out beforehand. For example:
80-99 players = Lotus, Recall, Time Walk, Mox, Workshop x 4 for top 8 + lesser prizes further down;
100-119 players = Lotus, Recall, Time Walk, Mox x 5, Workshop x 2 for top 10 + lesser prizes further down;
120-149 players = Lotus, Recall, Time Walk, Mox x 5, Workshop x 4 for top 12 + lesser prizes further down;
150+ players = Lotus, Recall, Time Walk, Mox x 5, Workshop x 4, Bazaar x 4 for top 16 + lesser prizes further down
I haven't actually done a budget for that, so obviously actual details may vary, but it gets the general idea across.
Do you really think that there are people who would be willing to sue WotC if they decide to reevaluate their position on the reserved list?
I'm not a lawyer, but the total value of the Reserve List is astronomical - for example, SCG prices for one of each Dual Land from A/B/U/R adds up to over $52000 (assumes NM - would be slightly less for played, but would still be over $51,000). The Power 9 from A/B/U adds up to $99,000. Sure, the retail value may be less elsewhere, but that's a reputable starting point.
Any serious collector who has full sets starting at Alpha is, theoretically, at risk of major losses if there are significant numbers of reprints. I am aware that there are good legal and economic arguments in favour of reprinting these cards, but can see why a risk-averse business wouldn't want to go there - it's not like they are desperate for the money, after all.
Thread detour aside, on the actual topic, I am a chess arbiter (I have the International Arbiter title, which is the oldest and highest arbiter title available), and chess arbiters are poorly paid in this part of the world (New Zealand) by world standards, yet it appears we are paid better than most MTG Judges, and that's without considering that chess events here are normally run by not-for-profit clubs rather than for-profit tournament organisers or massive American corporations.
I know that Organised Play and the Judge Program started out as voluntary things, but given WotC's size, and Hasbro's size, it's now a tool to make more money, and, IMO, they should not get the free pass they did in the mid-1990s when they were a small company building the community-driven Organised Play scene up. Times and circumstances have changed, and it's not unreasonable, IMO, to expect changes here.
I'm still trying to get to grips with the new interface -- how can I tell, in each forum's listing, whether a thread has had new replies since I last checked?
The colour of the thread's hyperlink is slightly different - for the theme I'm using, it's black if I've read all the posts on the thread and nearly indistinguishable blue if I haven't.