They have time (I think), but I doubt anything different is going to happen. Although it should considering the fact that they've been toying with TAR for a long time, to the point where it pushed the season back to be a mid-season replacement. Whatever the reason was...anyway, it happened, and now they're probably kicking themselves given the fact that they actually did push TAR12 back, decided to procrastinate green-lighting TAR13, and then there's this strike. Oops. That has to suck. Anyway, on a side note, good thing CBS hasn't treated March Madness like it's nothing to worry about, considering the fact that they'd probably be pissed if FOX won the right to air March Madness. Hopefully they'll be careful going forward to treat an emmy-winning show like an emmy-winning show. Doubt it; ten-to-one Survivor wins in 2008, and without realizing that TAR has gone 5-for-5, they'll dump TAR, stating that "While it was a great show, it wasn't all that, and for the record, Survivor won an emmy, and TAR didn't." Whatever.
Anyway, rant over. I'm not surprised, just upset since I can't believe the story about budget costs when they've hooked up Survivor and are getting another BB season in.
Anyway, I feel bad that your first TARcon has to be this way. However, the history behind the event was really just a get-together with other TAR fans (BTW, many people can explain this better than I could). The possibility of racers came up, and then became a reality. Naturally, TARcon grew over the next several seasons. A lot of people blew off TARcon8, with some/several returning during TARcon9 (nicer weather brings more people to the event, as well as the fact that more people can afford to take the time off around that time). Someone mentioned that people should show up to TARcon8 to watch with other fans and not because of the racers, regardless of the season, which prompted people to deny that it was the case (citing a bunch of excuses).
Then came TAR11 (All-Stars). It was a great season, but it turned out to be not all that. Again, a lot of people were either on the fence or decided to sit out the season. Then someone mentioned that a lot of racers were planning to attend TARcon11; all of a sudden, the event went from scarce to sold-out in rapid fashion (people actually tried to purchase admission via paypal, despite the fact that it was blacked out, it was quite sad).
In conclusion, while I also hope CBS reverses its decision, look at the event as an opportunity to meet other fans and watch your favorite show with the fans. While the racers showing up is the perfect "lure" towards wanting to go to TARcon, it's never a guarantee. And besides, given the # of people that often show up, it's difficult to impossible to chat with (all of) them, other than "Hi! Loved you on the race! Picture please? Thanks! Nice to meet you!" TARcon12 will not be super boring. I'm not one to say that, given how it's a week away, but I can't remember the last time anything featuring a 3-hr open bar turned out to be boring.
Sucks about the no-racer thing. However, I believe it's a one-time thing (budget costs), and that we'll be back to normal later this year. Tarcon might not be as awesome as in the past, but it won't suck. After all, while TAR12 people won't be able to show up, there are several others from past seasons that may attend!
Thank you georgiapeach! Next time, I'll keep my mouth shut! Bad news, but not too surprising!