You can read about "Granolagate" here, but note that there's no "-gate" to it. Things cost a lot at expensive hotels. Everyone knows that.
Still, you don't need a conspiracy theory to get angry. There's an inverse economy of size in play that hurts a lot of participants. The magnitude of the MLA limits the options for holding it to expensive cities that have a critical mass of hotel rooms in close proximity. The convention discount isn't enough to make those hotels affordable for participants who have limited incomes and earning potential to start with and who have to pay their own way. As the profession shrinks and becomes adjunctified, those kinds of participants make up a larger percentage of the total. Far from affirming the professionalism and significance of the participants, the overpriced setting diminishes them, making them feel like poor cousins who can't even afford the granola bars and don't really belong there.