The first phase of the refurbishment of London venue the Forum is underway, as part of a building project that will increase the capacity from 2,110 to 2,350.

The refurbishment, which is scheduled to be completed in March, will also provide the option to stage fully seated events at the venue which previously had a seated capacity of 1350 plus seating for 760.

As previously reported, U.K. venue operator/media and marketing firm MAMA Group acquired the venue from Mean Fiddler for £1 million ($1.95 million) in March 2007. MAMA went on to acquire several other venues and the rights to the Mean Fiddler name in a £6 million ($11.75 million) deal last August.

The first phase of the refurbishment will include a full sound and light installation, the creation of new bar areas, toilet refurbishment, redecoration, new seating and VIP areas and restoration of the foyer and building exterior. The second phase will complete the increase in capacity and allow the creation of a new fully seated format for 1,200 seats.

"In preparing our plans for The Forum, we have tried to look at every aspect of the operation, from both the client and customer perspective, delivering improvements at every opportunity," said Steve Forster, managing director of MAMA Group's live music division VMS Live, in a statement.

According to Forster: "what we will deliver at the end of this process is a 21st century facility that will rightly takes its place as London's premier 2000+ capacity venue, as well as offering a fully seated format and diversifying the range of events that we can stage."

MAMA has appointed Paul Buxton as GM of the Forum; further appointments are due shortly.