The first reason more clubs don’t own their own clubhouses is that they can’t come up with the price of the building. So they never confront the second reason, which is that it costs a lot to maintain a place to meet. Membership dues, alone, don’t come close to covering what the NESFA and LASFS require to keep their clubhouses operating year after year.
The New England Science Fiction Association analyzed its finances in Instant Message #819, revealing that it had taken around $100,000 to deal with the clubhouse oil tank line. The club had the accumulated resources to do this. On the other hand, the report concludes, “The NESFA Press pays the bills. The non-Press activities of the club show a $30K annual deficit.”
The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s activities are on a comparatively modest financial footing (their Form 990s on Guidestar show LASFS’ revenue is about one-quarter of NESFA’s), so it still hurt when they had to approve $5,000 for new asphalt on the driveway last year.
LASFS does not run its annual financial reports in the club’s newzine, but I know from my years on the Board of Directors that LASFS depends on the Loscon surplus in the same way that NESFA depends on its book publishing surplus.