Developers of Wembley Arena, one of London's biggest indoor venues, will extend its refurbishment and upgrade program by investing a further £9 million ($16.59 million).

Developers of Wembley Arena, one of London's biggest indoor venues, will extend its refurbishment and upgrade program by investing a further £9 million ($16.59 million).

The financial boost is in addition to the £20 million ($36.8 million) earmarked in November 2002 by the venue's owner, Quintain Estates and Development, and operator, Wembley (London) Ltd.

The new funding will be used to enlarge the 11,500-seater to a combined seated/standing capacity of about 13,400. Improved backstage facilities -- including dressing rooms, bars and production offices -- will be built. The venue's toilet amenities, lighting systems and box office facilities will all be reconditioned.

Wembley (London) Ltd. claims the Arena will host a total of 157 events during 2004, with the Beastie Boys, Anastacia and the Darkness among the acts booked to perform. The Arena closes for redevelopment in January 2005; work is scheduled for completion 12 months later.

An adjacent, temporary structure is to be built to host events throughout the refurbishment period. The 10,000-capacity Wembley Arena Pavilion is already booked to host two shows each for pop band's Blue and Westlife, and branded concerts in support of British TV talent quest "X Factor."

Wembley Arena is part of a wider conference, exhibition and entertainment complex. The area, which includes Wembley Stadium, is being revamped to coincide with the building of a new stadium.