I seem to recall that SA was told in no uncertain terms last year to provide prize money to 'entice' the elites (doesn't seem to have mattered this year with the high turnout but then Canberra is central to everything) even if it meant no cash left for SA orienteering.
Yes the club that ran the event made a small loss overall because of the prize money. Perhaps in the interest of "fairness" the event in our "poor" state could be subsidised by the events in the "richer" states.
To fund the prize money Eureka forfeited any profit that they would have made from the three ultra longs that they ran. But my parents knew that would probably happen when they came up with the whole thing - they thought it was worth it to make the event more novel and exciting (I'm not suggesting that every club should do the same)
I think it's a great idea and I'd go regardless of prizes (I'm not going to win anything) although this year I won't be attending for various reasons, none of which are to do with Canberra. Qld clashing its MTBO champs with it didn't help with my decision - ultralong was third on my list of events to attend this weekend. Ultimately I'm not attending anything, not even my fourth choice of our local WA event!
I'm not going to win any money either but I just thought the idea of it was the incentive for the prize money. If it was any other NoL I would just expect the same price for entries.
So it's win-win for Canberra by charging more and not forking out prize money ;-) Maybe they're getting in ahead of next year's OA fee increases.