When Area was every other year you could have added in that $3k or so too. I'm taking that off in my head now that Area is every year though. Even with a budget conscious plan there it's exceptionally expensive even for a small band. I can't imagine taking one of the large 6As.
That being said, we do normally do the BOA Super Regional on our non-advancing year, so we also spend a good chunk of change there too. The entry fees are nearly $500 more for that, plus the same charges for vehicles. We tend to spend more on new equipment for state years, but a good chunk has also been spent on the off years. For me at least my thought is that if you have a year that 'doesn't matter' without a goal you're not going to build up the younger students to want to achieve that goal of state. As it is getting Freshmen and Sophomores, a bigger chunk of our band this year than traditional for us, trained up and motivated was a challenge. At least the sophomores knew what we were talking about with the dome though!
I'm kind of a bit in both camps in that way... I get where superintendents are coming from when they voted it down 7 years ago, but I also think it makes it a bit tougher to keep kids motivated and maintain the level of performance year after year. It also is rough when you have a senior class like we did last year and they couldn't advance... I'm glad we have Area now as a goal for them.
That being said as of this week my kids and myself and our staff are all completely exhausted, as I'm sure everyones are, and the idea of an 'advancing year me' coming out every year is going to take some getting used to for all of us. Even if it is 'just' Area, I know it's going to spur the level of competition even more. I think it's especially a fantastic opportunity for a developing program that's been on the cusp of Finals at Area or a State spot to build into their next years. Hopefully UIL gives out some nice looking trophies to the 1st-3rd places at Area on the non-state years. As far as I could tell nothing was given out this year even though Champion and 2nd/3rd were marked on result sheets.
It is definitely a compromise to have Area every year... I would guess it will eventually lead back to State every year. I do feel like we shoot ourselves in the foot by not having as many state champions. To some extent it surprises me (being from out of state) that we don't have more of a concert level side of this style of competition too. As much as we like to say 'it's music' and shouldn't be competitive, the truth of the matter is the support in most of our communities is at its best when there's a positive competitive outcome that can be pointed to.
No matter what though everyone needs to make the best choice for their students and communities!