check the strength of your troops, if your playing a weak race, you may find that fielding robotic troops is actually a better choice than your own... for my recent game, the securian race only had a 7000 troop strength, but the robots had 6000... not too shabby for such a cheaper replacement
EDIT: the maintenance was only around 13k VERY manageable if you ask me, for being such a help early game
there are alot of advantages to it.
your research potential is always enough to prevent wasted points.
getting civilian ships out of the docks means resources will start moving alot quicker, try it a few times i bet you will notice a difference. i did!
you can start exploring the galaxy faster by queing up 20 explorers, usually i field 20 or so in 1400 star games.
later in the game, when strategic resources are well stocked, it makes building custom fleets alot faster. since you can build all of them at once.
i promise that you will notice a difference in resources moving around, luxury resources still move kinda slowly, but strategic resources move very well. for most of the early game, especially if i find some good lost colonys, there will STILL be ships waiting to start being built at the spaceport, for months!! even with 20 shipyards... i couldent imagine how long it would take to field them if it was still a medium
if you are concerned about the matience cost of the space port, since its possible that the reason i find it manageable is due to the quality i put home systems on (i want them to feel meaningful to capture and to control).... remove the research labs (you wont need them) and shields from your small space port designs.
100?!? Egads, you're plaing on far different settings than me. No way I could afford that, without severely hammering my income. Maintenance on those buggers alone would come to 50k a year - a pretty hefty chunk. That's not to consider trying to manage that many freaking explorers. Go to war, and the swarm all heads to scout the enemy. A serious pain in the arse, if you're still trying to explore! 100 manual reassignments? Ugh!
Generally I use the "quick start" epic game setting, as the AI spread on the "new game" maps is atrocious - which means I generally have to be pretty careful about how I balance guns vs. butter. If there's a way (without using the editor) to alter home systems settings with this game start method, then I haven't seen it.
My main concerns are:
1. maintenance cost of the base. Sure, you crank out the civilian ships quicker, earning yourself port income. But that isn't endless - once the civvies have enough ships, you're left with an economic boat-anchor, and you will have traded quick explorer swarms for economic base - since those not using your tactic will have the same total money coming in over a longer period of time - without the incredible maintenance costs. Or that's how I see it - maybe I'm missing something here? But maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps the explorer spam can pay off - you're bound to find more abandoned ships and get more tech bonuses from being the first to the ruins - but it feels more like an exploit than a legitemate tactic, to me. Mrmm - I'll have to give this one some thought.
2. research labs - With vanilla RotS, it would make sense. Far better to stick them around black holes. But with RotS, my perception is that it's more efficient in terms of cost/performance, to have research facilities in your ports, since it's cheaper to pay the additional upkeep for the port, than it is to pay the upkeep on a whole new research station. I know the AI places a wretchedly low value on research stations, but it seems a bit silly to put all your eggs in one basket, and not spread out your research - so that one attack won't cripple your whole research infrastructure. Again, you don't HAVE to, but it seems again, an exploit - like having 30 research stations sitting around a single black hole in 1.06. You get gobs of research coming in, and I've yet to see the AI take a poke at them - but it feels like it's exploiting the stupidity of the AI, as opposed to playing with a "reasonable" empire setup.