MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
The Command Assembly Hall unlocked its doors to residents during the grand opening ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, July 1, 2016.
The new facility centralizes on community support functions, enables mass briefings for station residents and supports events for the influx of personnel.
“It was time for a new facility,” said Marco Izquierdo, Command Assembly Hall theater manager. “The old theater was decaying and the sound system was breaking down.”
Residents gathered around as U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert V. Boucher, station commanding officer, Patrick Szigeti, Marine Corps Community Services director, Kiyotaka Nozaki, Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau deputy procurement director, and Lawanda Steward, Defense Policy Review Initiative project manager, conducted the ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the grand opening of the new building.
“The base has undergone dramatic changes throughout the last few years,” said Boucher. “With great pleasure we are opening another phenomenal facility to the public. We just watched a movie in the old theater a week ago, and now we are opening a new one. It’s fully stocked and ready to go.”
Costing approximately $28 million, construction of the building began September 2013 and finished March 2016 with an additional $1.5 million spent furnishing the facility.
Operated by Marine Corps Community Services, the building contains a new 29,000 square foot theater with a modern stage, state-of-the art seating, four ticket windows, guest lockers, expanded concessions with a new snack-bar and five soda fountains, 2-D and 3-D projection and a powerful surround-sound system.
A stage curtain provided by the Japanese depicts the historic Iwakuni Kintai Bridge using the Ukiyo-e style of Japanese woodblock print, which symbolizes the bond and partnership the air station maintains with the local community.
“The curtain was hand-made locally by the Japanese,” said Izquierdo. “It shows what this area used to look like hundreds of years ago and they did a beautiful job. The new theater also allows us to show better movies, have great sound and is able to be used for professional military education. I hope the community enjoys their new facility.”
Located behind the new commissary between Club Iwakuni and the Kawashimo housing area, the new building replaces the Sakura Theater.
The old 20,776 square foot theater, which opened in 1954, is scheduled to be demolished in order to expand the Child Development Center.
“Through everyone’s efforts, this new theater has become an excellent facility that shows a great link between our two countries, and we are very happy to share this moment with everyone,” said Nozaki.