But I could at least gather information about what the event would "look like" from the contestants' perspective (getting here, events, perhaps relative prices for incidentals) and see how it compares. Then comes your part, dear reader(s): are the trade-offs for a non-New York setting worth saving (hypothetically) some money? I know what my answer is, but then I wouldn't have to travel. (And better yet, if you do one for your town, then presumably we might find the "best" place to do this, wherever it is.) Responses in the comments, or trackbacks I suppose.
So the details: The proposed site would be the Sheraton Norfolk (or, if we have some sort of contract with Marriott, I suppose we could move to the Norfolk Marriott three blocks down).
- Getting here: Norfolk International has the name-brand airlines (including Southwest). If you're an AirTran or Frontier partisan, you can fly into the Newport News airport, but that can be a heck of a ride down to Norfolk. Either way, you would need to do a shuttle service to get out of the airport (from NIA, it would be $22 to the hotel and from Newport News $55, near as I can tell). I don't know how well the competence of the shuttle company compares to Connecticut Limo, but I don't see how it could be worse.
- Stuff around: Well, you're in Norfolk. You've got a zoo, a nautical museum, the botanical garden, a mall, and a reasonable amount of water. There's a bus system that I've never used that can get you to all these places. There are a few concert arenas there, which may or may not have something going. And if you're willing to rent a car and go further afield, there's Colonial Williamsburg and some battlefields, plus some more museums. And there's Virginia Beach, but in February that may not necessarily be an asset. (Maybe if we go back to St. Patrick's Day....)
- Sleeping: The any-idiot-off-the-street room rate at the Sheraton for Feb 19-21, 2010 is $105. Presumably we could do even better on the group rate.
- Eating: I don't know that area at all, but Yahoo maps seems to indicate that there's some fast food type things down highway 460 (don't know how walkable that is, 'cause that's a big-deal road, but it's about five blocks) and some more normal restaurants to the NW, towards Scope Arena and the water (but that's more like ten to twenty blocks away).
- Facilities: The main ballroom is 12685 sq ft. The main ballroom at Brooklyn is 16000, if we used it all. My spatial visualization ability is notoriously non-existent, but my recollection would seem to be that we had ABCDE, but not FGHI (based on the floor plan on the Marriott site) meaning we were using about 12350 square feet for a capacity of 935. The hotel has about 470 rooms (the Marriott, a 14400 sq ft ballroom and about 400 sleeping rooms). The hotel bar closes at midnight, which is probably a concern to several.
So there you are. Would it be worth it? You tell me.