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Construction on the new $5.7 million Tomodachi Lanes bowling center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, is expected to be complete by the end of this month. Officials now are aiming for an April grand opening.
Construction on the new $5.7 million Tomodachi Lanes bowling center at Yokota Air Base, Japan, is expected to be complete by the end of this month. Officials now are aiming for an April grand opening. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Services officials are targeting April for the grand opening of the new $5.7 million Tomodachi Lanes bowling center, which has been under construction on the base’s west side for almost a year.

Some minor snags surfaced along the way, but the local contractor is expected to turn the facility over by month’s end.

William Thomas, chief of the 374th Services Division’s business operations flight, said management then will need about a month to apply the final touches and train personnel before inviting the public to check it out.

“I think the Yokota community will be thoroughly impressed with this state-of-the-art facility,” he said. “We’ve had our normal issues (but) our bowling center management team wants to open the facility when everything is up and running smoothly and correctly. We want to be able to provide the best possible customer service rather than opening prematurely and having to correct problems as they arise.”

The new center is to feature 26 lanes, a central control counter, arcade, pro shop, children’s playroom, wide-screen TVs, 51 slot machines, bar and lounge, karaoke, multipurpose party and meeting room, new restrooms and locker areas, and refurbished heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Wireless scoring consoles and wait service from the bar areas also were among planned amenities.

Tomodachi has been operating in its current location with limited lane availability since late September. After the bowling facilities are relocated, the current building will be demolished and replaced by a parking lot.

A complete overhaul of Building 1213, which once housed the Base Exchange, began last April. Yokota officials initially hoped to unveil the new bowling alley in January but a few unforeseen factors slowed renovations.

“There were a couple of minor structural cracks in the outer walls from earthquakes, which required some repair,” Thomas said. “These were found after the inside of the building was demolished as part of the renovation.”

In November, he added, officials found that the contractor failed to install a handicapped-accessible floor in front of the Bangkok Express snack bar counter, so the floor had to be removed. The popular Thai eatery that has been operating out of Tomodachi Lanes’ current location also will make the move and will begin providing delivery service from the new location.

The bowling center also encountered some problems with arrangements for upgraded American bowling equipment to be shipped here, Thomas said.

Over the next month, televisions are to be mounted and telephones, cables and lines installed. At the same time, employees plan to shift all food and pro-shop inventories, video and slot machines and office equipment to the new facility.

“The staff will then receive training on all of the new systems before the center will be opened,” Thomas said.

Yokota spent a decade trying to secure funding for a modernized bowling center officials said they hope to showcase as the Pacific’s premier facility.

Thomas said the original price tag of $6.4 million got trimmed to about $5.7 million after Services opted to transfer existing pin-spotter machines from the old house to the new one.

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