Following the Kraft Hockeyville win, former Elliot Lakers donate $300K for arena repair

A couple who grew up in Elliot Lake have donated $300,000 to help reopen the arena in the northern Ontario town.The donation from Jim and Jo-Ann Armstrong comes two weeks after Elliot Lake won the Kraft Hockeyville contest, netting $250,000 to go toward fixing up the closed Centennial Arena. Jim and Jo-Ann Armstrong both grew up in former uranium mining capital, but now live in Phoenix, Ariz. Jim Armstrong said he’s long wanted to make a contribution to his hometown and when he heard about the Kraft Hockeyville win, the plans to repair the aging arena presented a perfect opportunity. “Being a kid that grew up in northern Ontario, I know how important hockey is and I know how important it is to have a covered rink in your town. Especially a small town like Elliot Lake,” he said.Armstrong is CEO of JDA Investments, and was founder and CEO of JDA Software, now Blue Yonder, which supplies supply chain management software for large retailers. The donation for the Elliot Lake arena is through the Armstrong Family Foundation.Elliot Lake city council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollar shoring up the roof of the 55-year-old Centennial Arena, but the building had to be closed in September 2023 due to safety concerns. (Erik White/CBC)Elliot Lake’s only indoor rink, the 55-year-old Centennial Arena, was suddenly shut down in September out of fears the roof could collapse.That has forced minor hockey players, figure skaters and the Elliot Lake Vikings junior hockey team to drive about 45 minutes to every game or practice in the nearby towns of Massey and Blind River.Armstrong said he could remember when the Centennial Arena was built. “We still refer to it in our family and with our friends as the new arena because before that we had to play hockey on outdoor rinks and that sort of thing,” he said.”So when we got the arena, it was a big boost for the town and a big boost for all of us kids that lived there.”On top of the donation from the Armstrong Family Foundation, the city of 11,000 people hopes to raise an additional $200,000 for the arena repairs. Elliot Lake Mayor Andrew Wannan said he’s hopeful both the federal and provincial governments will now chip in following the success in the Hockeyville contest and this new donation from the Armstrong family.If all goes well, Wannan said, the needed upgrades could be completed as early as September, but are more likely to be done later in the fall.The city has not yet provided a full estimate on the cost of repairs for the arena. 

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