July 20, 2024
The city's official version of the popular board game favors a lot of historic places and businesses, but you won't find a tech company among them.

The new San Jose edition of Monopoly was released Monday, and the most coveted spots on the board — what would normally be Boardwalk and Park Place — went to two local landmarks with more than 150 years of history between them: the Winchester Mystery House and Original Joe’s.

Fittingly, the game  — which is now on sale for $39.95 on Amazon, at CVS and other retailers — was unveiled at the Winchester Mystery House, where Mr. Monopoly himself posed for photos with Original Joe’s co-owner Brad Rocca, Winchester Mystery House Executive Director Walter Magnuson and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, among others.

“San Jose has so much history, so much to be proud of, so much to celebrate and this is just one more great opportunity to do that,” Mahan said. “I know we’re all very excited to see many of our local landmarks and local history and culture be memorialized on this game board for generations to come.”

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, left, and Winchester Mystery House Executive Director Walter Magnuson pose with Mr. Monopoly at the official release of the San Jose edition of the popular board game on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Rocca, Original Joe’s owner, said he was proud that the landmark downtown restaurant had such a prominent placement on the board — and quite frankly expected nothing less. Mr. Monopoly must agree as he planned to swing by the South First Street restaurant Monday night to greet diners.

The board has some pleasant surprises, too: Longtime San Jose businesses Peters’ Bakery occupies one of the properties and $15 Sewer and Drain, a San Jose company founded in 1983, has the utility spaces. VTA has a monopoly on the four railroad spaces — though they all feature buses instead of light-rail trains.

Popular hangouts like Santana Row, San Pedro Square and Plaza de Cesar Chavez get their due on the board, made by Top Trumps and licensed by Hasbro. Downtown attractions including the Tech Interactive, the Children’s Discovery Museum, the California Theatre, the Civic Auditorium, Center for the Performing Arts and Christmas in the Park all have a spot, as does San Jose State.

The game board for the San Jose edition of Monopoly was released with an event at the Winchester Mystery House on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

Nature lovers will appreciate that Alum Rock Park, Coyote Valley and the Japanese Friendship Garden are all represented, too, and the board even goes well beyond the city limits to include Año Nuevo State Park, Santa Cruz Beach and Natural Bridges State Beach.

So what didn’t make it? The Sharks and SAP Center appear to be sitting this game out, the Richard Meier-designed San Jose City Hall didn’t pass go, and the Electric Light Tower at History Park was left in the dark. There’s also no Signia by Hilton hotel and no mention of tech companies headquartered in San Jose like Adobe, Zoom, Cisco or eBay — or other valley giants like Google, Apple or Facebook. Maybe those companies seem more like they belong to everyone than just San Jose.

A VTA with a Monopoly-themed wrap was parked in the Winchester Mystery House for the official release of the San Jose edition of the popular board game on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

THE FARCE IS WITH THEM: Maybe it was just me, but it felt like the audience breathed a collective sigh of relief when San Jose Stage Co. opened “The Play That Goes Wrong” on Saturday night. This was the third time in the past couple of years that San Jose Stage had put the comedy on its schedule, with the previous attempts being delayed for various reasons including, of course, COVID-19.

But the third time proved to be the charm, especially with Kenneth Kelleher directing an all-star cast of Stage favorites — nearly all of whom had worked together on other shows, which no doubt helped with the precise timing required for the very physical comedy. Artistic Director Randall King said he had some concerns about coming out with a farce given all the trouble going on in the world right now, but it made him feel good to see the audiences laughing. “We all need a laugh right now,” he said. “This was the right time for the show.”

It runs through Dec. 17, and tickets are available at www.thestage.org.

PERFECT FOIL: The Fencing Center in San Jose had a great 40th anniversary celebration Saturday night, hearing from founding coach Peter Burchard and surprising coach Connie Young Yu with a lifetime achievement award. Yu told me she was inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” when she was younger but life intervened and she didn’t take up fencing until later in life. As a coach, she continues to inspire the next generation — including her own daughter, award-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu, who was a two-time All-American in fencing at Yale.