Another HUGE price increase

  1. 8 months ago

    I remember on an earlier post we were told that one of the reasons registration fees jumped up so much and the fees to the event partners increased so much even though REC looks flush with money at worlds is that much of their sponsorship is money directed specifically at worlds. As a side note, event partners are not getting as much this year as in past years even though their fees have gone up. For example, all the trophies in the standard prophy packet are the same size. Nothing special for the Excellence Award.

    Now the fees for worlds have increased to nearly $1000 ($975) per team. With this increase and the increase in the number of teams in worlds this year, they will have an increased revenue of over 35% from registrations alone.

  2. lacsap

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner, V5 Beta Tester Massachusetts 9791[a-z]

    I only note a 14% increase in registration fees. The revenue might be up because of anticipated growth of teams going to Worlds, but there is increase in costs with handling that growth.

    I have not seen the RECF balance sheet, so can't really tell what is going on under the hood.

  3. JpgeyCIgjQumPfrUmpb

    12 Oct 2017 Toronto (most of the time)

    @lacsap I only note a 14% increase in registration fees. The revenue might be up because of anticipated growth of teams going to Worlds, but there is increase in costs with handling that growth.

    I have not seen the RECF balance sheet, so can't really tell what is going on under the hood.

    What is your point? Nothing you said contradicts what the OP said.

    The fact is, there are at least 26 major sponsors of the Vex World Championships. RECF brings in thousands of dollars at the event from sponsors, vendors, and will bring in nearly 1.6 million dollars from teams paying for registration for the tournament. They likely get some of the vending revenue as well. Additionally, a large percent of the labor for the event is volunteer. They are increasing the revenue they are getting from teams by over 35%. Some of that comes from an increased number of teams and some of that comes from a more that 14% increase in the price of registration.

    While it may be true that the RECF is technically a non-profit organization, the fact is, it is a big business. Keep in mind that the NFL is also a non-profit organization. That does not mean that there are not people in the organization who are profiting from what the organization does.

    The increase in fees make STEM less accessible rather than more accessible. It is hard to believe that would be the goal.

  4. tabor473

    12 Oct 2017 V5 Beta Tester OYES, WPI
    Edited 8 months ago by tabor473

    @JpgeyCIgjQumPfrUmpb What is your point? Nothing you said contradicts what the OP said.

    The fact is, there are at least 26 major sponsors of the Vex World Championships. RECF brings in thousands of dollars at the event from sponsors, vendors, and will bring in nearly 1.6 million dollars from teams paying for registration for the tournament. They likely get some of the vending revenue as well. Additionally, a large percent of the labor for the event is volunteer. They are increasing the revenue they are getting from teams by over 35%. Some of that comes from an increased number of teams and some of that comes from a more that 14% increase in the price of registration.

    While it may be true that the RECF is technically a non-profit organization, the fact is, it is a big business. Keep in mind that the NFL is also a non-profit organization. That does not mean that there are not people in the organization who are profiting from what the organization does.

    The increase in fees make STEM less accessible rather than more accessible. It is hard to believe that would be the goal.

    If the World Championship costs much less than 10m to put on I will be very very surprised.

  5. TheColdedge

    12 Oct 2017 Columbus, Indiana 1483

    @tabor473 If the World Championship costs less than 10m to put on I will be very very surprised.

    I'd be interested what the actual cost is.

    I'm looking into how the cost has changed over the years, but this increase is a tough pill to swallow on top of the other increases this year.

    Not to mention we will have to buy the V5 stuff in the spring...

  6. 536Mentor

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner, V5 Beta Tester Appleton, WI 536

    At the EP Summit, it was explained this way. One, at the previous price points, RECF was not going to remain economically sustainable. This is due to the increase in the number of teams and having to hire additional personnel to handle the increase as well as the fact that the 3% charge on registrations was not covering their costs of handling the transactions. Two' they had to make a choice between hitting everyone with this price increase all at once or increasing it incrementally over a 5 or so year span. They chose all at once.
    I agree it does make it difficult to get this sticker shock, but at least you can plan on the fees staying pretty flat over the next 5 years or so. At least, that is the plan. And yes, we are going to have to spring for v5 when comes out, that would be true no matter what. Do the increases concern me? Yes. However, I look at what my students get out of the program and compare bang for the buck relative to competing programs and I will find a way to stay. That is my story and I am sticking to it!

  7. 536Mentor

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner, V5 Beta Tester Appleton, WI 536

    @ILoveBots For example, all the trophies in the standard trophy packet are the same size. Nothing special for the Excellence Award.

    I like the move to standard sized trophies for the various levels of competitions. Regional/state qualifying event get the 10" trophies. (Here in Wisconsin, I have a local trophy shop engrave plates that say "State Qualifier" that we put on all of the trophies at each qualifying event for the awards that qualify a team for state. At the regional/state event, the teams get the 12" trophies. Then at Worlds, they get the BIG ones. Seems very logical to me. A side benefit to RECF is that it does make packing the trophies for various level events simpler (and perhaps, a little cheaper).

  8. TheColdedge

    12 Oct 2017 Columbus, Indiana 1483

    Here's some data I collected.
    -image-

  9. _7682

    12 Oct 2017 V5 Beta Tester

    @lacsap I have not seen the RECF balance sheet, so can't really tell what is going on under the hood.

    It's a 501(c)(3) and required by IRS to file 990 forms.
    https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/352212630
    http://990finder.foundationcenter.org/990results.aspx?990_type=&fn=&st=&zp=&ei=352212630&fy=&action=Find

  10. 536Mentor

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner, V5 Beta Tester Appleton, WI 536

    @TheColdedge Here's some data I collected.
    -image-

    To put some history to the chart. 2010 was the last year in Dallas. 2011 was at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney world. 2012-2014 was at the Anaheim Convention Center, 2105 to present has been at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

  11. TheColdedge

    12 Oct 2017 Columbus, Indiana 1483
    Edited 8 months ago by TheColdedge

    @536Mentor To put some history to the chart. 2010 was the last year in Dallas. 2011 was at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney world. 2012-2014 was at the Anaheim Convention Center, 2105 to present has been at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

    This data is also just High School

  12. lacsap

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner, V5 Beta Tester Massachusetts 9791[a-z]

    @JpgeyCIgjQumPfrUmpb What is your point? Nothing you said contradicts what the OP said.

    Just that the OP is overblowing the situation with presenting all the information to evaluate his subjective claim of a "HUGE price increase".

    Having looked at past filings of the RECF, it is not like they are stock piling tons of funds and not spending it on their stated mission. I have not found the past year's filing.

    As stated, the RECF is being pretty clear about its rationale about fee and how they are being used to support their mission and operations.

  13. Team80_Giraffes

    12 Oct 2017 Event Partner Downingtown, PA 80[A-Z]$|81[A-Z]$|90[A-Z]$|91[...

    Hey let's see how much FIRST charges? $1000 is 1/5 of a FIRST robot entry. But I think $1000 is on par with an FTC championships entry though.

    https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/pricing-and-payment

    Research equipment rental costs for bleachers, pit curtain walls, and video equipment. Not cheap at all. I think moving to separate IQ/VRC events may have been cheaper as the labor to set up and tear down is really high compared to the equipment being used (is there all that much demand for bleachers in mid April?) They also could rent less equipment, just the space rental for less rooms over more days. Plus IQ gets the due it deserves on its own making that event able to grow larger.

    $1000 for worlds is still a bargain. Would like to see the trophies cheaper though. Mass production of those puppies aught to get that price lower.

  14. blatwell

    13 Oct 2017 Event Partner Indianapolis 621A

    @Team80_Giraffes Hey let's see how much FIRST charges? $1000 is 1/5 of a FIRST robot entry. But I think $1000 is on par with an FTC championships entry though.

    https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/pricing-and-payment

    Research equipment rental costs for bleachers, pit curtain walls, and video equipment. Not cheap at all. I think moving to separate IQ/VRC events may have been cheaper as the labor to set up and tear down is really high compared to the equipment being used (is there all that much demand for bleachers in mid April?) They also could rent less equipment, just the space rental for less rooms over more days. Plus IQ gets the due it deserves on its own making that event able to grow larger.

    $1000 for worlds is still a bargain. Would like to see the trophies cheaper though. Mass production of those puppies aught to get that price lower.

    Hard to do a head to head comparison with FIRST. FRC is a completely different program where six figure budgets are not uncommon. FTC is comparable to VRC. While competitions are a bit more expensive, the cost of building a robot is considerably less due to there being competition for everything. There are multiple manufacturers of legal motors, phones used for the control system, and even batteries. The only thing that is somewhat set is the board into which everything is plugged and it interfaces with the phone. I guess the game controller is also set, but it is an easy to find logitech controller you can find for about $15 or less. You can use anything you want for structure and wheels and you can use any sensors you want. $4.95 for a 3 axis combination gyro-sensor and accelerometer compared to $40 each for a single axis gyro sensor and single axis accelerometer. 3D printing is also allowed.

    I am not saying everyone should jump over to FTC but if you want to compare costs to compete, I think they probably compare very favorably to VRC when total cost is considered. Their games are a bit more complex and this year's game would be a nightmare for an event partner.

  15. _7682

    13 Oct 2017 V5 Beta Tester

    @lacsap Just that the OP is overblowing the situation with presenting all the information to evaluate his subjective claim of a "HUGE price increase".

    Having looked at past filings of the RECF, it is not like they are stock piling tons of funds and not spending it on their stated mission. I have not found the past year's filing.

    As stated, the RECF is being pretty clear about its rationale about fee and how they are being used to support their mission and operations.

    That's why I posted the links. No pot of gold accumulating quietly in the corner every time a registration fee goes up!

  16. _7682

    13 Oct 2017 V5 Beta Tester

    @blatwell Hard to do a head to head comparison with FIRST. FRC is a completely different program where six figure budgets are not uncommon. FTC is comparable to VRC. While competitions are a bit more expensive, the cost of building a robot is considerably less due to there being competition for everything. There are multiple manufacturers of legal motors, phones used for the control system, and even batteries. The only thing that is somewhat set is the board into which everything is plugged and it interfaces with the phone. I guess the game controller is also set, but it is an easy to find logitech controller you can find for about $15 or less. You can use anything you want for structure and wheels and you can use any sensors you want. $4.95 for a 3 axis combination gyro-sensor and accelerometer compared to $40 each for a single axis gyro sensor and single axis accelerometer. 3D printing is also allowed.

    I am not saying everyone should jump over to FTC but if you want to compare costs to compete, I think they probably compare very favorably to VRC when total cost is considered. Their games are a bit more complex and this year's game would be a nightmare for an event partner.

    We do both FTC and VRC. Honestly they both cost about the same for a competitive team. That said we just spent $500 on gearboxes but they won't break either so you could argue they're an investment rather than consumables. This year's FTC game is good, last year not so much.

  17. blatwell

    14 Oct 2017 Event Partner Indianapolis 621A

    @_7682 We do both FTC and VRC. Honestly they both cost about the same for a competitive team. That said we just spent $500 on gearboxes but they won't break either so you could argue they're an investment rather than consumables. This year's FTC game is good, last year not so much.

    We used to do both, but the team did not like the games as much with FTC, and our programmer does not like Java. We also are mostly newbs with not much of an educational background so the less challenging aspect of Vex has its attraction. All that said, building the robot is a lot less expensive in FTC and you end up with much better parts.

    The AndyMark motors with built in encoders (that actually work well) are about the same price as a vex motor and motor controller yet the AndyMark motor is actually very well made where the Vex motor with the motor controller is basically a continuous rotation servo.

    Since there is competition, wheels are better and less expensive. If you want to use Vex stuff, you can but you are not locked in. You can 3D print things and you can even make stuff from wood or metal you get at the local hardware store. A couple of years ago, someone made wheels using a basketball cut in half as the tire.

    In Indiana, the cost to compete in a tournament is a little more, but that was offset by how much less is spent on the robot. Depending on what the cost is next year with the new V5, we may have to re-think where we put our efforts. There is a lot to like about Vex and the VRC, but the costs are getting to be hard for inner city groups like ours.

  18. blatwell

    14 Oct 2017 Event Partner Indianapolis 621A
    Edited 8 months ago by blatwell

    @tabor473 If the World Championship costs much less than 10m to put on I will be very very surprised.

    If you look at their form 990 for year ending 8/ 2015, you will see that their total cost for events for the year was $2,368,768. That would include the summit expenses as well as worlds.

  19. JpgeyCIgjQumPfrUmpb

    14 Oct 2017 Toronto (most of the time)

    $894,496 in travel expenses indicates that maybe flying coach could save them a buck or two, but when you have one guy with a compensation that is approximately $267,170 for the year compared to $1,670,933 for everyone else, for total employee compensation at nearly $2,000,000, maybe there is room to trim some fat there.

    To put it in perspective, they spent nearly as much on compensation as they did for events, and given that some of the compensation was for work done on or at the event, it may be more spent on compensation than on events, and more specifically, worlds.

    They did save money in the year ending August 2015 in IT as they only spent $198 there.

  20. Aponthis

    14 Oct 2017 Gilbert, Arizona Formerly 127A, 127C, 127X

    @blatwell If you look at their form 990 for year ending 8/ 2015, you will see that their total cost for events for the year was $2,368,768. That would include the summit expenses as well as worlds.

    I know little of finances, but does that include donated money going toward events or just what they spent? Basically, does donated money flow through the RECF and contribute toward that figure?

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