Ricoh Arena in Coventry has announced a major multi-million pound expansion to attract further indoor concerts, conference and exhibition business.

Work will begin on the £3 million project on Monday, January 4 which will transform the southern side of the multi-purpose venue.

The scheme will create a further 2,500 sqm of space in addition to the 6,000 sqm Jaguar Exhibition Hall and will also allow the Ricoh to attract audiences of 10,000 for indoor events, an increase of 2,000.

Two additional halls will be added for conferences and exhibitions while the poker room used by the former casino operators will become another hall for event organisers.

A new indoor 650-seat auditorium will be built along with a stairway and balcony into the atrium to create a new entrance on the side of the building by car park B.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a further £500,000 project later in 2010 to construct a new entrance to the on-site hotel and add a bridge across the top of the concourse to enable guests to dine in the casino’s former restaurant.

Daniel Gidney, chief executive of the Ricoh Arena, said this was the largest building project to have taken place at the venue since it opened in 2005.

“We have always intended to expand the Ricoh Arena because we needed an indoor auditorium and the additional halls three, four and five will have retractable walls which will allow us to target a whole new market,” he said.

“In the past we have had to turn down bookings for weddings, conferences and exhibitions because the E.ON Lounge was being used for corporate hospitality on Coventry City match days and we couldn’t always confirm bookings because of the potential changes to the club’s fixture list.

“This will take away that problem because guests will be able to arrive and depart by a separate entrance to use the new conference and banqueting suites.

“The auditorium will be ideal for smaller bands and singers, and will have its own stage and sound-proofed walls.

“The new entrance is excellent news for practical reasons as well as showcasing the venue in a more eye-catching manner to shoppers heading to Arena Park and motorists travelling along the A444.

“The success of the Ricoh has meant that we have been able to re-invest in the venue and we hope this development will play a part in leading Coventry out of the recession.”

The work by Birmingham-based contractors Ibex Interiors is due to be completed before June 2010.

The plans were drawn up by IDPartnership Midlands in Spon Street, Coventry, and Birmingham-based Cundalls are the mechanical electrical consultants. Vanguardia Consulting will be providing advice on the acoustics and audio visual design.