CONvergence has finally dropped the hammer on the ghost/crasher problem and essentially turned the entire hotel into convention space. You can still go to the bar, the restaurant, and (I think) the bathrooms without getting badged, but the practice of going to room parties without buying a con membership is over. For that matter, bringing in non-members to set up/tear down parties is over as well, although CONvergence reasonably offered "volunteer" badges to such persons, provided they knew who those people were going to be by the 25th. Predictable whining and delicious tears ensued.
Look, if you're broke and can't go to the convention, I'm sorry, but the concom has no obligation to let you in so you can visit your friends from out of town. If your ootie friends can't be bothered to come up a day early, or stay a day late, so you can have some time with them outside the con, then that sounds like a problem between you and your friends which doesn't involve the concom. Likewise, are you telling me that the only time you can meet these people is during con? I don't buy it. There are 360 other days in the year. And you can't manage to meet up at any other time than the extended Independence Day weekend? Riiiiiight. For that matter, there are public spaces near the Sheraton - last time I looked, there was a Burger King, a Caribou Coffee, a DQ, and a Friday's, none of which are convention space and all of which will allow you to meet your friends for the price of a cup of coffee or soda.
Whether people like it or not, conventions are by, of, and for the bourgeoisie these days. If you can't afford it, that's really too bad. I don't go whining to Katsucon and Otakon and AnimeUSA that I'm a broke-ass unemployed student and they should let me in so I can hang with my handful of local friends who attend those cons. If I really want to go, I plan ahead and save my money. So should you, instead of making a laughingstock out of yourself.