Nets Extend Continental Lease

NBA’s New Jersey Nets agreed to extend its lease at the Continental Airlines Arena for five years even though the team is expected to play in a new Brooklyn arena in 2009.

The extension would allow the Nets to play at the Meadowlands arena through the 2012-13 season, Nets executive Brett Yormark said. But if the team moves anywhere besides Queens or Brooklyn, it would be forced to pay an escape fee ranging from $12.1 million after the 2007-08 season to $2.6 million after the 2011-12 season, according to a statement provided by the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

Yormark said the team is pleased with the lease, which gives it all revenue from ticket sales.

“It’s a better lease than we’ve ever had, quite frankly, because all the upside is ours,” he said.

New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority president and CEO George Zoffinger said the team is welcome to stay in New Jersey.

“If Brooklyn doesn’t get built, we hope to strike a long-term deal to keep them in New Jersey,” he said.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner bought the team in 2004 and has been trying to get approval for a Brooklyn arena, part of his $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project. The Frank Gehry-designed entertainment “mini-city” is set to include an 18,000-capacity arena.

There have been rumors of an AEG LiveWest-run Nokia Theatre at the Meadowlands as part of the so-far $2 billion Xanadu project, but AEG representatives have said those are purely speculation.