A trio of South Tampa women is rolling the dice, betting holiday shoppers will be on board with their unique localized game of Monopoly.
About 22 months in the making, South Tampaopoly now is available at select locations and through the Web site of the creators, incorporated as 3 Chicks & a Board.
Bid adieu to low-rent Baltic Avenue and forget about riding the Reading Railroad. Positions on this custom board advertise South Tampa restaurants, nightspots and other businesses.
The green houses and red hotels of Monopoly fame have been replaced by South Tampa bungalows, in black, and McMansions, in gold -- Plant High School's colors.
The old-style shoe and other game tokens have been given the boot, replaced by six modern ones, including a big-screen TV representing Audio Video Unlimited and a smiling mouth of teeth advertising sponsor Feldman Orthodontics.
"We wanted to redo everything to fit South Tampa," said Cathy Wilson, who got the idea from a 2008 Valentine's Day ad for Loveopoly. "Wouldn't it be funny if we did a board game based on South Tampa?" she asked daughter Sara Quintero. "She's my sounding board and she thought this idea may actually work."
The two approached friend Veronica Swiatek, who became the third partner and drafted the business plan. Then came months of tweaking the plan, recruiting paying sponsors and obtaining approval from LifePath Hospice's Circle of Love for Grieving Children, the local charity designated to receive 5 percent of the game's profits.
The 3,500 games were made by Late for the Sky Production Co., maker of Palm Beachopoly and similar customized versions. The Cincinnati-based company has an agreement with Hasbro, whose Parker Bros. subsidiary publishes Monopoly.
South Tampaopoly sponsors receive a supply of the $29.95 games to sell or give away, said Swiatek, whose Massage Studio in Palma Ceia fills the space traditionally occupied by Virginia Avenue. The game available at many sponsors' locations and through the www.SouthTampaopoly.com Web site is a great holiday gift that can bring the family together, she said.
The coveted high-rent Boardwalk position is occupied by Columbia, the Ybor City landmark restaurant founded 30 years before the original Monopoly game was patented in 1935.
Deeds bear the logo and other information about the respective sponsor of the property, while the all-important currency advertises Ybor City. Sponsors also are prominent in "Community of Sunshine" and "Chance of Rain" cards.
One other change: On the South Tampaopoly board, the dreaded "Go to jail" square demands, "Go to Orient Road," site of Hillsborough County's best-known lockup.
A South Tampaology local celebrity tournament open to the public is set for 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, another game sponsor.
The game has been sufficiently tested. Quintero and her 6-year-old daughter Olivia played a four-hour session that featured some added friendly family competition. "She wanted to buy Daddy, but I got there first," Quintero said of hubby Domingo Quintero III of Keller Williams Realty, a sponsor on the board space normally held by Mediterranean Avenue.