A popular childhood board game about wheeling and dealing in real estate is the basis for a fundraiser Thursday night at the University of Northern Iowa. The Monopoly Tournament is expected to gather 40 to 50 students and professionals in Iowa’s real estate industry.

Steve Bruere, president of a Des Moines-based brokerage firm, graduated in 2003 from U.N.I., the only Iowa university to offer a major in real estate. Bruere says, "The real estate program went through some budget cuts recently from the state so we thought this would be a great way for students like myself to give back to the program."

He says the money raised will go toward the U.N.I. real estate program’s endowments, faculty salaries, books and classroom development. Bruere says some people have questioned if the tournament participants would be using real money in the board game, since it’s a fundraising event.

Bruere says: "It’s Monopoly money but they do have to pay a pretty significant entry fee to get in. It’s 150-bucks for a professional and we’re allowing the students to play for 15-bucks, trying to get some of the professionals mixed in there with the students to create a networking opportunity."

Anyone who’s ever played Monopoly knows the games can sometimes become all-night marathons, but he says they’re building in a time limit. Bruere says the Hasboro Company recommends 90-minutes of play, then everyone’s assets will be counted and the winners from all tables will compete in a final round, so the whole tournament should last about three hours.

Some alums from the U.N.I. program are coming from as far away as Georgia for the competition. The Monopoly tourney is scheduled to start at 5 P.M. Thursday and is being held in an appropriate setting — the Park Place Event Center in Cedar Falls, fitting as "Park Place" is one of the more prized properties in the game.

AUDIO: Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley report on Monopoly fundraiser. :39 MP3