Culver City is for sale.
Why bother with Boardwalk, Park Place or Short Line Railroad when you can own MGM Studios, Fox Hills Mall and Fred Rose Upholstery?
The "deeds" to 40 corporations and small businesses in Culver City can be bought with a roll of the dice in "The Game of Culver City," a Monopoly-like board game to be sold in time for Christmas to raise funds for the town's Historical Society.
The businesses each donated a tax-deductible $175 to the society to reserve a space on the board, and about 100 people each gave $10 to have their names listed on it as "Friends of the Society." The society has ordered 700 of the games from a Michigan company that has made similar games for at least 1,200 cities nationwide.
Starting in mid-November, the games will be sold around town for $15 apiece. The $10,000 the society expects to earn from the scheme will go toward a town history museum it hopes to open someday. The game will be the largest fund-raiser the society has ever attemped, having relied mainly on picnics and dinners in the past.
"We think people will be interested in playing a game with local businesses on it," said Marti Diviak, the society's game project chairman. "There seems to be a lot of civic pride in Culver City and we thought it would generate more excitement than selling coupons or something."
The object of the game is similar to Monopoly: bankrupt everyone and buy up all the properties. There is a deck of cards not unlike Monopoly's "Chance" and "Community Chest" called "Wheeler-Dealer Cards," which may be bought or sold. One reads "Sell Fireworks to China, collect $4,200 commission." And while there is no "Go to Jail" card, you could be sent to City Hall where you have to pay a fine to get out.
But the rules are a bit more complicated than the famous Parker Brothers game. At the beginning, players are required to invest at least $5,000 in diamonds or another product offered in the "Commodities Futures Exchange." A roll of the dice determines profit or loss and how much. And if a player lands on a business owned by another, he must roll one die, multiply the number by $3,000 and pay that amount. But if the owner owns two businesses in the same block, the amount is doubled; for three, it's tripled, for four, quadrupled.
Lest the game player grow weary of arithmetic, a board of multiplication tables is included for quick calculations.
Society President Lupe Smith said she came up with the game as a fund-raising idea during a trip to Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains between Hemet and Palm Springs. She bought that town's own version of the game in an antique shop and later contacted Michael Glenn Productions of Allen Park, Mich., makers of the game. Businesses, including the Filmcorp Group, Lorimar-Telepictures and Ship's restaurant, bought up the entire board in a matter of weeks, and others had to be turned away, she said.
"It was a dual thing for (the businesses). It's an advertisement and a tax-deductible donation. I don't know which (attracted) the businesses more."
As an added attraction sometime next year, the society plans to hold a "Game of Culver City" tournament in which contestants would pay to play for prizes donated by local businesses.
The society, which maintains a small office next to the Culver City bus yard on Duquesne Avenue, serves as caretaker for the 68 movie costumes donated to the city by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the 1970s. A society member is working on identifying the stars who wore them and films in which they appeared.
The 200-member group also has hundreds of old photos of the town and about 50 tapes of reminiscences of town history made by residents.
Diviak said the society hopes to one day have the city donate the costumes to the museum.
"It's too early to say where and how big the museum would be," Smith said. "We would not be adverse to donated space, but it's way down the line."