Wannabe tycoons can swap out Park Place and Boardwalk for GMU and Ballston in Arlingtonopoly.
Written by Arya Hodjat | Published on
Photograph courtesy Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
If you’ve ever fantasized about being Jeff Bezos and buying up acres of property in Arlington, you finally have your chance—assuming the die rolls in your favor.
Last month, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce released “Arlingtonopoly,” a riff on the classic Hasbro game, in celebration of the organization’s centennial anniversary.
Instead of Baltic Avenue and Marvin Gardens, players can build a real estate empire atop George Mason University and National Landing. The utilities are still there; they’re just sponsored by Washington Gas and Dominion Energy now. The four railroads have made way for Arlington’s Metro stops—Ballston, Crystal City, Court House, and Rosslyn.
Even the game pieces are different: the dog remains, but the top hat is now a hard hat, to go alongside a bike, a flamingo (representing Arlington LGBTQ+ friendly mainstay Freddie’s Beach Bar), a tiny Air Force Memorial, and a Boeing 737, sponsored, of course, by the corporation, whose headquarters are in Arlington.
The game was released a week ago, and Kate Bates, the president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, says that only about 300 of the 1000 copies were left in inventory as of Thursday (Interested? You can buy one of the $40 games here). To fill out the spaces on the board, Bates said, the Chamber of Commerce sold the naming rights to local businesses—with one of the dark blue or green properties before Go costing more than the brown ones. Bates said the proceeds will go toward the Chamber’s operations.
The game’s box and board were designed by local firm Design Powers, who also occupy the $220 space, part of a set with the Chamber of Commerce and National Landing. Founder/CEO Evelyn Powers, who has lived in Arlington since 1990, says the board is reflective of how big Arlington is—if not in size, then in business: “We’ve got big companies like Boeing and Nestle down to my company, and we’re just three people.”
Bates said her group was inspired by an Alexandria iteration of the game, called ALX-opoly, released by the city’s chamber of commerce in 2021. ALX-opoly features Mount Vernon and the waterfront, among other Alexandria landmarks, as well as its own unique tokens (an old-timey town crier, a horse-drawn carriage).
Lovie Patish, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s events and sponsorship director, told Washingtonian via email that their game was indirectly inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic: “When in-person networking events stalled, many of our members were looking for unique opportunities to share their business and brand with customers.”
But Northern Virginia’s ties to Monopoly date back to the game’s very origin. Lizzie Magie, the inventor of The Landlord Game—the precursor to Monopoly—lived and died in Arlington.
Not to be outdone by its suburban neighbors to the south, DC has its own Monopoly variant; Washington, D.C.-Opoly is available for purchase at the National Archives store. In true Beltway fashion, players who break the rules don’t have to Go To Jail—they get stuck in a traffic jam for three turns.