By Deikeya GreerJune 19, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. - For Soldiers looking for something to do, a place to hang out or a place get a quick bite to eat, the Warrior Zone has it all.
"The Fort Riley Warrior Zone is a great place for Soldiers, particularly single Soldiers like myself," said Pfc. Matthew Keith, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
The Warrior Zone has been open since Feb. 7, 2010, for Soldiers use and entertainment. With more than 4,000 square feet of space, the facility is equipped with wireless Internet access, gaming computers, poker and pool tables, a home theater, plasma screen TVs and food service at Java Cafe. The Java Cafe serves a variety of foods including pizza and quesadillas, in addition to beer and Starbucks coffee.
"The facility is a great addition to Fort Riley," Keith said. "It has everything Soldiers want to do. They can come here and hang out, get a beer, play their favorite video games or just watch movies. I come here to play video games and use the computers."
Aside from having computers that are used for entertainment purposes, Soldiers can use the computers for free for personal tasks as well - to send an e-mail, check bank accounts or print their Leave and Earnings Statement.
"Soldiers who take advantage of the Warrior Zone feel like this is their home away from home. They pretty much come and go as they please," said Tracy White, assistant manager.
The Warrior Zone already has plans for the summer to keep Soldiers coming back. They will work with the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers to coordinate barbecues on the covered patio, basketball tournaments.
"It feels like the Warrior Zone was made for single Soldiers, more or less those on the installation that don't have a car," Keith said. "We can walk right over. Or if we don't have computer access we can use these (computers). We can come here and have our own place.
"Since the age is 18 to enter, this is a place for adults, and we can come here and simply relax," he added.
In addition to all the amenities the Warrior Zone has, various tournaments also take place at the facility. Chess, 9-ball, rock band, karaoke, Texas hold 'em, domino and Halo-3 tournaments all take place at the Warrior Zone.
The hours of operation were chosen in hopes to meet the needs of the Soldiers; the facility is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday.
According to White, as a test site, the current Warrior Zone is only the beginning. Construction for a new much larger, about 28,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin in July of 2010. The Warrior Zone is a first for the army, with all other installations following suit to build their own facility, she said.
"This is a great place to come after work, when you're tired. We can come in and play games, watch movies and just kick our feet up," said Pvt. Jeremy Kelly, 201st Special Troops Battalion. "It gives us a lot to do, and I love playing in the gaming tournaments."
According to White, the Warrior Zone is serving its purpose, because the Soldiers return day and night. White said the Warrior Zone has regulars that come in and make themselves comfortable and enjoy themselves.
"This is their home away from home and we are glad about that," she said.
Just about everything in the facility is at no cost to Soldiers, with the exception of food and beverages.
"The Warrior Zone is a convenient getaway spot for Soldiers because it is centrally located, and it provides a service and affordable food," said Cpt. Scott Wesley, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. "I take advantage of its facilities as often as I can. It provides Soldiers with a great place to relax and enjoy their free time."