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Sailors at Naval Support Activity Naples spend their lunch hour at the new recreation facility in BEQ 3. The facility’s main room has three new pool tables and a new air hockey table. The staff is waiting on the delivery of a new foosball table.

Sailors at Naval Support Activity Naples spend their lunch hour at the new recreation facility in BEQ 3. The facility’s main room has three new pool tables and a new air hockey table. The staff is waiting on the delivery of a new foosball table. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Single sailors assigned to Naples area commands have a bright and shiny future when it comes to their off-duty time.

The new base recreation center that officially opened Tuesday is filled with neon-blue plastic chairs; sloped, shiny metal walls; new gear and more electronics than were found on a World War II-era battleship.

The 5,000-square-foot facility has a main gaming room and smaller interior spaces serving as movie theater, TV rooms, soundproof music rooms and Internet center.

Eventually, the center will also have a small Noble Roman’s pizza kiosk. Employees already sell sodas, candy and microwave snacks.

“I thought I had to pay to come in,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class George Velez of the base Public Works department about his first visit. “Everybody living in the barracks … they say ‘hey, have you seen the new place?’”

Sailors are surprised at the futuristic look of the facility.

“Oh, gosh, it’s amazing,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephanie Jones, a single sailor who’s worked part time with the base liberty program for more than two years. “I like the modern look.”

Liberty program director Jaimie Buddock said the still-unnamed center is much better than the previous facility, the Underground, which was in the basement of a barracks.

The previous facility, though slightly larger than the new one, was designed for storage, not recreation, she said. The new facility was designed for single, mainly younger, sailors.

“This is a more positive, happy atmosphere,” she said Wednesday in her office, just off the center’s main recreation room. “It fits more for our target audience and we have natural sunlight.”

On Thursday, about a dozen uniformed sailors spent part of their lunch breaks at the center, surfing the Internet and playing pool or air hockey.

“We never had an air hockey table that worked,” Jones said about the Underground. “This is a first. It’s just awesome.”

Buddock said that there is one downside for base sailors.

“They’ll probably have to relearn how to play pool on level tables,” she said.

The center is in the still-unfinished third Capodichino barracks and is accessible from the lobby of BEQ 1. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

What it’s got ...

The new recreation center in Naples’ unfinished third barracks has an almost incredible amount of gear for sailors.

Almost all the equipment in the center is new.

The facility’s main room has three pool tables and an air hockey table. The staff is waiting on the delivery of a foosball table. Six televisions — four in the main room and two in the computer room — broadcast American Forces Network shows.

Within a month, two Bose sound systems will be installed, one in the main room and another in the movie theater.

The movie theater will eventually have a drop-down screen with video projector to show the center’s more than 500 movies. Each month, the Navy Motion Picture Service sends about 16 new movies to replace older ones. Two dozen beanbag chairs, which look like floppy La-Z-Boy recliners, serve as the center’s version of “theater seating.”

Another room has a dozen Internet terminals, and there are two small, soundproof music rooms. There, sailors can use an electronic keyboard or choose from two new acoustic and two electric guitars.

Two TV rooms will each have an X-Box and PlayStation2.

The center will soon be getting a small Noble Roman’s pizza kiosk, where sailors can buy personal pizzas and chicken wings in addition to the snacks already for sale.

— Jason Chudy

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