Some ideas for the City of Culture edition of Coventry Monopoly

Two decades after the first Coventry edition of Monopoly, City of Culture 2021 means there is going to be a new one, so here are our suggestions of what should go into the updated version of the game.

The starting point for deciding what should go into the 2021 version has to be to look at the 2002 edition and see what they got right, what they got wrong and what needs changing. There’s no point reinventing the wheel, especially as James and John Starley did that in Coventry all the way back in the nineteenth century, and the world still seems happy with what they came up with. But there is a lot that needs changing as right away – literally from square one – you can see why they need local input, as you get the impression they might not have even have visited the City back in 2002, as somehow they decided that Kenilworth Road was the Cov equivalent of Old Kent Road; the cheapest property on the board.

Kenilworth Road for less than a third of salary? Yes please!
Kenilworth Road for less than a third of salary? Yes please!

While Kenilworth Road probably wasn’t actually sponsored by the War Memorial Park, on other squares many of these ‘places of interest’ certainly seem to have got there through sponsorship, which causes a lot of problems when looking at that version of the game today, as those sponsorship deals don’t seem to have done the firms involved much good in the long term. And then there’s name changes, as next to Kenilworth Road, the Community Chest is sponsored by the Coventry Evening Telegraph. OK, that might be what many of us still call it (did they ever change the sponsorship sign at the Ricoh?), and there are others that have changed name or logo since 2002 which might not be too much of a big deal, but the real issue is there on the next square along: “Clarence Street – Coventry City Farm”. Oh dear.

Just to show how much the City has already changed since the turn of the millennium, a quarter of that original board doesn’t exist anymore. On top of the City Farm, there’s: Classic Gold on 1359am; Highfield Road; The Leofric Hotel in Broadgate; Mercia FM; The Heart of England Co-Op on Corporation Street; My Travel on Smithford Way (is that now Millington Travel?); Astleys on Gosford Street (chillingly captioned as “Supplying Coventry businesses since 1730″); The Jag plant and Browns Lane and Abbey National. Not just that, but Rugby Road (or Brandon/the Bees Stadium as anyone who’d ever actually been there would have called it) may mostly still be there at the moment below the ash and weeds, but sadly no-one will stick their neck out on it staying that way for long.

Just a taster of how much Cov has changed since 2002
Just a few examples of how much Cov has changed since 2002.

But the 2002 version does at least give us a great starting point, as there was one thing it got dead on even if it probably was by accident. A standard feature of Monopoly is the stations, specifically the fact there are four of them. But of course back in 2002 Cov only had three, with what would become the Ricoh Arena no-one near being started let alone finished, even though it was still laughably referred to as “Arena 2000” by CCFC. As we couldn’t have four stations, we got the ring road, the train station, the airport and the canal. That surely has to stay, I mean replace Coventry Canal with Canley Station? Coventry Airport with Tile Hill? The Ring Road with the Ricoh, which has to be there in its own right anyway? I don’t think so.

Transport - The Rings Road, Station, Airport and Canal. This group can't be beat and surely must stay..
Transport – The 2002 version used the Ring Road, the Station, the Airport and the Coventry Canal. This group can’t be beat and surely must stay as it is.

Another thing that shouldn’t change from 2002, though I admit this is more of a punt, is can we keep Oggy on the front cover please? Being on BBC CWR these days he is still connected with the City, and it’s quite amazing that when you look that box, that he is still around the City now but the Coventry Cross has gone. Still, no-one is missing that tent over Godiva. Yes I’m sorry for reminding you that that was a thing. Like most of us, I’d decided to try and forget it ever happened.

Oggy on the radio

Something that Monopoly seem to be embracing quite seriously this time is Coventry-specific Community Chest and Chance cards. This was a bit half-hearted last time with players being sent around the board, and the really bizarre decision by Inland Revenue (oh, they’re not called that any more either, I forgot that one!) to sponsor the Income Tax space on the board (a move which oddly also saw “Super Tax” disappear) and some Chance and Community Chest cards, but only ones that gave you tax rebates…..

So here are some suggestions for Chance and Community Chest cards:

  • You miss your exit on the Ring Road. Go to the Coventry Canal to turn around at the roundabout. If you pass Go, collect £200.
  • Take a ride on a Starley Cycle  to Coventry Market. If you pass Go, collect £200. (Yes, we’re going to all call those hire bikes ‘Starley Cycles’. Start doing that now!)
  • You are seen wearing an Aston Villa shirt in Broadgate. Go directly to Jail.
  • £100 fine for drinking in the City Centre.nobooze
  • Donate to the Homeless. Give £25 to each player who does not have a house.
  • You scratch your Specials LP. Miss at turn.
  • You are a Peeping Tom. Go directly to Jail.
  • You get a parking fine even though there were no double yellow lines. You can pay £60 or contest it by throwing the dice. If you get an odd number you get off, if you get an even number, you pay double (this is actually how the system works).
  • You are ‘Sent to Coventry’, proceed directly to Go.
  • You win £25 as second prize in a Lady Godiva lookalike contest.
  • An elephant tramples your bicycle. Miss a turn.
  • You are as true as Coventry Blue. Collect £150.
  • You’re getting too hot. Go to the Skydome and cool down at Planet Ice.
  • You pass your degree. Go to St Michaels Cathedral for your graduation ceremony.
  • You get into a punch-up with a tourist who insists a ‘batch’ actually has some weird other name you’ve never heard of. Go directly to Jail.
  • Coventry is home to Thrust SSC, the fastest car on Earth. Use it to travel anywhere on the board.
  • Caught by the average speed cameras on London Road, pay a £60 fine.
  • Donate £50 to University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust.
  • You are seen wearing a Leicester City shirt in Lady Herberts Garden. Go directly to Jail.
  • Sell a 1792 Coventry Godiva/Elephant Halfpenny. You get £50.
  • You find an unexploded World War II bomb whilst digging in your garden/cannabis farm. Miss a turn.
Remember Dave Grinsell, who was "Surprised by all the excitement" when he brought Coventry to a standstill after taking the WWII bomb he found into the Evening Telegraph office?
Remember the bloke who was “surprised by all the excitement” when he brought Coventry to a standstill after taking the WWII bomb he found into the Evening Telegraph offices?

Of course if you really, really wanted to make an edition of Monopoly that was truly Coventry, you’d have Coventry pieces, and there are just so many choices: Lady Godiva; an elephant (castle optional), a phoenix, a Coventry-built cab (some people insist on calling them ‘London Taxis’ for some reason), a bike, the Ska dancer, three spires, a fob watch, the Jaguar bonnet ornament their old cars had (there’s your sponsorship opportunity!), a batch, a jet engine, the ribbons from that roundabout in Foleshill, or any of the other statues from around the City like Sir Frank Whittle, Peeping Tom, the Fargo Robot, Coventry Boy or St Michael. Maybe not that one outside the Belgrade that looks like rabbit droppings though.

Just some of the playing pieces there should be in Coventry Monopoly
Just some of the playing pieces there should be in Coventry Monopoly

So anyway, what should the properties be? The starting point has20210417_171139 to be to consider how Monopoly actually works. Besides those four transport hubs, you have the two utilities and properties in eight coloured sets, more specifically two twos and six threes.

Whilst I’d like to suggest the blue lamp at Little Park Street would look great as ‘Jail’ and that ‘Free Parking’ has absolutely no business being on a Coventry Monopoly board, I’m not sure I’ll get very far with that.

Utilities – The Coventry Waste to Energy Plant, and the National HQ of Severn Trent Water.

As we will have four Coventry-specific transport hubs, what about the utilities? I had thought about suggesting they should be replaced with breweries before remembering there are more than two of those now. Yay!

But hang on, Severn Trent have their national HQ in Cov, as do e-on. Back in 2002 National Grid were still based here,  but they’ve missed this boat now they’re in Warwick. Better than that though, there is actually a power station in Coventry. Yes there is, it’s at the tip. What did you think that chimney is for?

Moving onto the eight coloured groups, it makes sense to have sets of things that are all similar if not necessary close together. Though Richard Williams managed to get a group that was both of those when he spoke to the man charged with doing the work on BBC CWR last week. He pointed out that Coventry has three cathedrals, and it turns out that no version of Monopoly anywhere else in the world has that. So St Michaels Modern Cathedral, St Michaels Cathedral Ruins and St Marys Priory Cathedral & Guildhall, would be a group, and that handily and sneakily gets the Guildhall on the board too.

The Cathedrals: St Michaels Modern Cathedral, St Marys Priory Cathedral & Guildhall and St Michaels Cathedral Ruins.
The Cathedrals – St Michaels Modern Cathedral, St Marys Priory Cathedral & Guildhall and St Michaels Cathedral Ruins.

Richard also suggested that the Elephant Building (the subject of what was meant to be our launch blog/video – come back next week!) might be an idea for the list, but at this point in time we’re not even sure if it would still be there when City of Culture ends, so surely that has to be a non-starter.

Looking for other sets, what could they be? The most obvious was almost there in 2002, as the green group had both Coventry University and UTMOW (the University of Ten Miles Outside Warwick) in it. And like cathedrals there are actually three universities in Coventry now. No, there really are! Well…. Arden University is based in a unit on an industrial estate in Baginton, so it might just be a bit of a stretch to sell that one, but how about slotting in Coventry College to make an education set? The big advertising sign at the front of the campus does say “Make it Coventry College”, so they clearly think so.

Education: Coventry College, Coventry University and the University of Warwick.
Education – Coventry College, Coventry University and the University of Pretending not to be in Coventry.

The third property in the 2002 green group was Browns Lane, and while that’s gone you couldn’t possibly leave Jag out, the same way you can’t leave vehicle manufacture out. So that’s the JLR global HQ at Whitley, the Transport Museum, and the obvious number three has to be the London Electric Vehicle Company.

Back in the day, the Liberty of Coventry.
Back in the day, the Liberty of Coventry.

LEVC (formerly called LTI or Carbodies, or Manganese Bronze if you’ve not been keeping up) has moved from Holyhead Road and is now based up at Ansty in a new-build factory which is the first dedicated electric vehicle plant in Europe.

Now before any smarty pants tries to make out that this is not in Coventry, well neither is Coventry Airport, but the difference is that Ansty used to be in Coventry back in the days of the Liberty – the first time Coventry was a county in its own right – so we’re having it. It’s that simple.

Vehicle Manufacture: The Coventry Transport Museum, and the Global Headquarters of JLR at Whitley and the London Electric Vehicle Company at Ansty. Note to self: don't try and take the photo on a Sunday next time...
Vehicle Manufacture – The Coventry Transport Museum, the Global Headquarters of JLR at Whitley and the London Electric Vehicle Company at Ansty. Note to self: don’t try and take a photo at LEVC on a Sunday next time…

As Coventry is getting a new edition of Monopoly due to being City of Culture, having a culture-based group is obvious and essential. The Belgrade and the Herbert are as much of a must have now as they were in 2002, and while there might be a long list of places that could be added, it surely couldn’t be a genuine City of Culture board if the third spot didn’t go to Fargo. Maybe after the events of 2021 we’ll be thinking “Why didn’t they put XXX in?”, but not now.

The Herbert, Fargo Village and the Belgrade Theatre.
Arts – The Herbert, Fargo Village and the Belgrade Theatre.

The sports group is pretty easy, but who would have thought in 2002 that the one survivor to make it to 2021 would be the Skydome? The Ricoh and the Butts Park Arena are the obvious additions to make up the set.

Sports – The Butts Park Arena, Planet Ice at the Skydome and the Ricoh Arena.

Besides the two big-ticket items to come at the end of the board, there are two or three things left that could make obvious groups: parks, history and retail, but there are only two slots left. There’s obviously a fair bit of history already covered, but with so much still missing, the obvious answer is to have a set of parks that are also historical. So that’s the War Memorial Park, Caludon Castle Park and Coombe Abbey.

Parks: Caludon Castle, The War Memorial Park and Coombe Abbey. Take a closer look and it seems like the trees from Caludon and Coombe are growing into the War Memorial photo. Weird.....
Parks – Caludon Castle Park, The War Memorial Park and Coombe Abbey. Move your head back  and it seems like the trees from Caludon and Coombe are growing into the War Memorial photo……

That leaves retail with the short straw of the group that only gets two spaces, which for the City Centre just has to go to the two from the original edition, Coventry Market and the Lower Precinct. They make even more sense when you consider that the other option of West Orchards is looking like it will soon be as half-empty as Cathedral Lanes started to become about ten years ago, and look what happened to that in terms of it being a shopping centre…..

Retail - The Lower Precinct and Coventry Market
Retail – The Lower Precinct and Coventry Market

That all leaves us with the obvious finale, well half of it is obvious at least! Given what it has to go with, the less obvious half has to be the statue of Sir Frank Whittle in Millennium Place, because the final end of board square could never have been anything else than the Lady Godiva statue in Broadgate.

Statues - Lady Godiva and Sir Frank Whittle
Statues – Lady Godiva and Sir Frank Whittle

So there we are. It’s all done. With a stack new community chest and chance cards and a brand new suite of Coventry themed pieces, my Coventry 2021 Monopoly board would look like this:

Transport –         Coventry Ring Road, Coventry Station, Coventry Canal, Coventry Airport.

Utilities –            Severn Trent Water HQ, the Coventry Energy from Waste Plant.

Brown –              Coventry Market, The Lower Precinct.

Sky Blue-            St Michaels Modern Cathedral, St Michaels Cathedral Ruins, St Marys Priory Cathedral & Guildhall.

Pink –                  Ricoh Arena, Butts Park Arena, Planet Ice at the Skydome Arena.

Orange-              War Memorial Park, Caludon Castle Park, Coombe Abbey.

Red –                   Jaguar Land Rover HQ at Whitley, London Electric Vehicles Ltd HQ at Ansty, Coventry Transport Museum.

Yellow-               Fargo Village, The Herbert, The Belgrade Theatre.

Green-               Coventry University, the University of Warwick, Coventry College.

Navy –                 Statues of Sir Frank Whittle & Lady Godiva.

This website was not due to go live until May 2021, but with the Coventry Monopoly suggestions deadline being 24th April, it has been part published to get this article done in time.

Published by Sky Blue City Walks

Guided Walks of Coventry, the UK Capital of Culture 2021

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