PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After Panama City’s request for FEMA funding to replace the Marina Civic Center was denied, the city is now looking for new funding.

After arguing for more than three years that Hurricane Michael damaged the Panama City Civic Center beyond repair, the city lost its arbitration case on Tuesday. 

FEMA determined the building was 43% damaged. The center needed to be at least 50% damaged for Panama City to receive replacement cost funding.

“I think that this shows there may be some necessary steps for FEMA to look at in their review process,” Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen said. “Because in our estimation, the evidence could not have been more clear. The damage was because of Hurricane Michael. I don’t think anybody in this community would argue it was anything other than Hurricane Michael.”

He said the city will see how much money it can ensure from insurance. City officials said the city could use repair costs funds from FEMA to repair the old civic center. Panama City could also use those funds for a new building. Currently, the city is moving forward with its market analysis to demolish the old civic center and build a new performing arts center. 

The Wilson Butler Architecture firm proposed a new facility behind City Hall or at the Marina near where the current Civic Center stands.

The most recent proposal would be approximately 1,600 seats. Those seats could also be taken down for a 3,000-person standing room arena. 

The firm also has plans to build an outdoor venue for 5,000-8,000 people. 

“Their evaluation is that maybe it needed to be a little bit smaller because a lot of seats sat idle,” McQueen said. “Sure, there were times when it was full but there were many times when those seats were empty. So they’re trying to find out what’s the right size venue for this city and what can we draw to meet the needs of this community.”