A big surprise in a city council committee meeting Wednesday afternoon:
After weeks of discussions about the future of Kemper Arena and the American Royal Complex, Foutch Brothers Developers sent a statement to the council that, due to circumstances beyond its control, it no longer was able to pursue a plan to convert the aging arena into a youth sports facility.
But it's not an automatic win for an American Royal plan to tear down Kemper and replace it with a new, smaller arena, according to committee chair Ed Ford.
Ford says the council must now decide whether to perform necessary maintenance on the old arena and operate it as is or to adopt some version of the American Royal plan.
The Plans, Zoning and Economic Development Committee then heard a report from city staff comparing the costs of keeping the arena and replacing it.
After hearing the report, the committee members seemed to agree that the city probably would have to cap its contribution to a new arena at $20 million, not the $30 million the American Royal is asking for.
Ford says he will introduce a formal resolution to explore the remaining possibilities and that the matter is likely to be referred to a joint committee. Then the public hearings process would begin again, this time focused on the possibility of building a new arena.