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A Classic Game With Local Flavor Comes To Buffalo

Can you think of something that Buffalo has in common with King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, Alderaan of Star Wars, and Hogwarts of Harry Potter? It might be a little more playful than you think…

Buffalo is now part of an elite list of custom, first edition, Hasbro MONOPOLY Games. 7,500 of The First Edition City of Buffalo MONOPOLY games have hit the shelves and are bringing game night a lot closer to home.

100% of the proceeds will benefit the Roswell Park Oishei Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program. The purchasing of this game supports Western New York’s youngest cancer patients, their families and their caregivers. The funds raised from the purchase of this game will have a long-term benefit to this incredible program; ensuring that children and families facing childhood cancer can remain in WNY to receive the very best care, right at home in Buffalo.

The teams from Roswell Park and Oishei Children’s Hospital, along with Jeana Nicotera of The Cooley Group and Alyssa Nicotera of Buffalo Rising – with a little guidance from Hasbro – came together to design a game to highlight our beloved city. The local landmarks, businesses, and the things that make Buffalo, well, Buffalo. The games launched on November 9, and can be found at all participating Tops Friendly Markets locations!

How It Started

The efforts for this game oddly enough started in Utica, NY when Jeana brought the concept to her hometown in 2018. “Honestly, some of the best ideas come out of the blue,” she said. “It just hit me – We need to create a City of Utica MONOPOLY game. It made sense to make it a civic pride piece to benefit a local nonprofit. I do a ton of fundraising projects for clients, but nothing ever of this magnitude.”

With the sold out success in Utica, a town with bolstering pride in its community – and subsequent success in 2019 and 2020 with Syracuse and Saratoga Springs – Jeana knew this concept would be a perfect fit in a place with just as much passion for their city.

THAT is where Buffalo came in. Jeana’s daughter, Alyssa Nicotera, moved to Buffalo right out of college in 2015 “fell in love with the city” and was quick to call Buffalo home. After Utica’s success and the outpouring of support, it was clear that the City of Buffalo would be perfect for this project. However at the time, Buffalo was a “pie in the sky” campaign.

The population of Utica is just over 60,000 to Buffalo’s 256,000. Oneida County compared to Erie County? 231,000 to 918,000 in population. Where would the boots on the ground efforts come? Which nonprofit will be approached? Will they get approval from Hasbro to proceed with the City of Buffalo? And oh yeah… they are in the middle of a pandemic.

Alyssa pushed on with the thought that ANY time is the right time for this pride piece and got Jeana to take the leap that she was waiting for. After the decision was made, a write up of the city had to be provided to Hasbro as to why Buffalo is deserving of one of the very limited editions that are produced each year. Included in those are the custom editions such as Game of Thrones, so the room for error in the write up was slim. The exact write up that was provided to Hasbro can be found at the end of this article.

Gaining approval in February to move forward with the game, the decision of which nonprofit was to be made. Working closely with Roswell Park through collaboration with Buffalo Rising, and knowing how much of an impact the hospital has in the Buffalo community, Alyssa reached out to Michelle Ostrander, Director of Development Marketing & Communications at Roswell. Michelle saw the potential and brought the idea to her colleague Jennifer Hickok, Director of Corporate and Sports Partnership and Board Relations.

In the first meeting with Roswell Park, the team identified the incredible opportunity to raise critical funds for the pediatric cancer and blood disorder patients through the joint venture with Oishei Children’s Hospital – the Roswell Park Oishei Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Programs. Together, Roswell Park, and Oishei Children’s embarked on their first joint charitable partnership, knowing the exponential difference the funds raised through the First Edition Buffalo MONOPOLY game can have on the communities they collectively serve.

Selling the Board

In order for all proceeds to benefit the fundraiser, the money for the production and distribution of the 7,500 games had to be found through sponsorship of various levels from local businesses. In exchange for their support, they receive placement on the First Edition Buffalo MONOPOLY game.

In MONOPOLY, players vie to bankrupt their opponents by purchasing spaces along the board called properties. The classic MONOPOLY has properties based on streets in Atlantic City, whereas the Buffalo edition’s properties are named after participating businesses and landmarks.

Who the committee wanted to occupy the coveted Boardwalk and Park Place — the two most valuable spots on a MONOPOLY board – was unanimous. The Bills and The Sabres.

It’s A Buffalo Thing

Again – this process began in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Knowing the impact on the community, and the ask of the sponsorship was not easy to bring to business but “Buffalo just got it,” Jennifer said. “There were so many people that just understood our vision and it became something that everyone involved had to look forward to in a time of uncertainty. They understood that this is a true timepiece for our City. Something that everyone can look back on in five, ten, twenty years and still have the same feeling of wow.”

All other properties fell into place from there, but decisions on who to ask were not easy. With the bolstering resurgence in Buffalo with dozens and dozens of staples in the city, there ARE only 39 sponsorship opportunities available.

Aside from businesses, some individuals stepped up for Buffalo mainstays — such as Shea’s Theatre — that could not afford a sponsorship for inclusion due to the impact of the pandemic. Regardless, the board’s arrangement was not based on level of affluence like a traditional MONOPOLY game.

“We worked to build districts within the board,” Jennifer said. “I think if we wanted to, the board could have been completely restaurants from the response we received, but our vision was much more encompassing than just food. We needed a historic district, hometown treasure district, and more of the City on the board.”

Then the process of distribution was discussed. Knowing the teams would need somewhere to physically sell 7,500 games, the team brought John Persons from Tops Friendly Markets into the conversation. “You could not ask for a more selfless and supportive partner in this than Tops” Bennett said “so much of this was made possible because of John, Andrew Broncato and their entire team.”

The First Edition Buffalo MONOPOLY games will be sold solely at participating Tops Friendly Markets. Tops, receiving zero proceeds, is doing this in support of the fundraiser.

Hasbro maintains number of requirements for all custom editions including:

  • The four corners of the board — Go, Free Parking, Jail, and Go to Jail — needed to remain untouched.
  • The game’s four railroads had to be thematically related to transportation.
  • Designers particularly had to justify the inclusion of a brewery district given Hasbro’s commitment to a family friendly product. The impact that the craft brewing industry has in Buffalo made their inclusion possible.
  • The game’s Chance and Community Chest cards had to be renamed. The directives of the cards — “Go back three spaces” or “Pay $20 to each player,” for example — had to stay the same, but the in-game descriptions could be customized.

The team had a rewarding experience fitting as much Buffalo as they could on the board.

Writing the Chance and Community Chest cards with the teams was the most fun I had through this almost year long process” said Alyssa “We wanted to find those things that will just make people smile and bring them back to a place in time. Having those ‘Buffalo-isms’ within the game is what makes this truly a Buffalo thing.”

And through the entire process, one key focus never wavered – the impact WNYers and expats will make on pediatric cancer and blood disorder patients right here in our community.

Buffalo, NY

Reigning second largest city in the state of New York, Buffalo has a population of 256,000 and growing. Undergoing yet another resurgence, Buffalo is a city filled with as much history as there is pride:

  • The National Register of Historical Places includes many Buffalo landmarks including Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Colored Musicians Club, Darwin D. Martin House Complex, Market Arcade, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, and so much more.
  • Home to:
    • The Buffalo Bills – competitors in the NFL Eastern Division. Coming off of an AFC East Championship and a Conference Championship appearance, spearheaded by quarterback Josh Allen.
    • The Buffalo Sabres – as a part of the NHL’s expansion in 1970, the Sabres compete in the Eastern Division and have played at the KeyBank Center since 1996.
    • Buffalo Bandits – Also competing in the KeyBank Center, the professional box lacrosse team has four national championships under their belt.
    • Buffalo Bisons – The Bisons are a Major League, Triple-A East affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The team hosts their home games at Sahlen Field, the highest-capacity Triple-A ballpark in the United States.
    • Buffalo Beauts – This Professional Women’s Ice Hockey Team is based in Amherst, NY and is one of six Professional Women’s Ice Hockey Teams.
    • FC Buffalo – An American Soccer Team founded in 2009. The team plays all games at All-High Stadium.
  • Buffalo’s rich and varied arts scene is expanding and undergoing a revamp of its own as the crown jewel Alright-Knox is currently closed for a $165 million renovation and expansion that will add 30,000 square feet to the world renowned arts center. Dedicated to the art of Western New York is the Burchfield Penny Arts Center is a 84,000 square foot museum. Hallwalls, Squeeky Wheel Film and Media Art Center, CEPA, Castellani Museum, and many more art centers call Buffalo home, along with a wide range of public art installations and staples.
  • Buffalo is rife with presidential history. Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States was from and is buried in Buffalo. Grover Cleveland got his political start in Buffalo before ascending to the highest office in the land. After the assassination of President McKinley and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office at Buffalo’s Wilcox Mansion, which is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.
  • Chicken Wings, Beef on Weck, Loganberry, Sponge Candy, and Stingers are all menu favorites, and a must have for natives and visitors alike. With a flourishing foodie scene, streets like Allen, Elmwood, Chippewa, and Hertle are lined with cuisine and noted chefs from around the world.
  • General Mills’ Buffalo location is the company’s oldest cereal plant in the United States. The streets are fragrant with the scent of Cheerios and Lucky Charms!
  • A City that has a focus on health and education. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is ranked top ten on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best cancer hospitals in the country. Oishei Children’s Hospital is noted for their compassion for women and children in the region and is top for care. ECMC, Kaleida Health, and Mercy Hospital also provide top care for the community. The State University of New York at Buffalo is New York’s top public University with over 30,000 students enrolled. Buffalo State, Canisius College, Daemen College, and D’Youville are just some of the other Buffalo Colleges.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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