The NEC Arena is to get a landmark tall tower as part of a £25 million makeover. The 28-year-old venue - home to many high profile events including the Horse of the Year Show and Strictly Come Dancing - will be improved and largely re-built over the next year.
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet approved the scheme, which includes: a feature tower, a new entrance, wider and better lit concourses, new cafes, restaurants and bars and entertainment areas and a dedicated VIP entrance, new seating and improved lighting.
Cabinet members approved a report which warned the arena required major refurbishment if it is to continue to be attractive to the public, promoters and artistes.
Council leader Mike Whitby said the refurbishment would deliver a world class arena.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: "Hot off the back of a record 160,000 visitors attending Crufts over the weekend and a buoyant live touring market, The NEC Group plans to completely revitalise the arena to create a vibrant, 21st century total entertainment experience to rival major international venues."
Over one million people visit The NEC Arena every year and it is one of the busiest UK venues.
Coun Whitby said the arena had boosted the reputation and economy of the West Midlands for almost 30 years but was now in need of modernisation. Failure to act now would risk the arena becoming unattractive to promoters and customers, he warned.
He said the improvement plan, which will see all of the work undertaken around a busy show calendar, will ensure that Birmingham "remains a must-stop on major UK and international tours and gives the region a world-beating, leading concert venue".
Full details of the plans are under wraps - and will be revealed later this year.
The aim is to launch the new arena in autumn 2009.
NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi said: "The NEC Arena plans form part of a wider development strategy for The NEC Group which we hope will include a ground breaking leisure and entertainment complex - never seen before in the UK market - incorporating a large casino and a longer-term master plan for the NEC site as a whole.
"Along with the developments taking place at Birmingham International Airport and in the city centre you can see the building blocks being put in place to realise Birmingham’s vision of becoming a tier-one global city and I am proud that The NEC is at the heart of it all."
The NEC Group is seeking funding for the arena redevelopment project through applications to various bodies, including regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.