After Nets owner Bruce Ratner announced yesterday he’d scrapped Frank Gehry’s ambitious Atlantic Yards arena design in favor of a less costly version that’s already being compared with the Conseco Fieldhouse, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was predictable quick to step up the P.R. offensive on Ratner’s behalf early today. From Newsday’s Michael Frazier :

Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday that the move bodes well for the project, which has stalled because of litigation, rising construction estimates and the economic downturn.

“Ratner came to the conclusion . . . that in this day and age you just cannot finance something as complex to build as that stadium,” Bloomberg said.

Ratner is replacing the Gehry design with work by architecture firm Ellerbe Becket of Kansas City, Mo., shaving millions from construction costs.

“Frank Gehry, who is a genius, designed a spectacular stadium,” Bloomberg said. “But this one, Ratner just . . . decided to part company because Ratner couldn’t afford to build if the economics didn’t work with today’s market.”

If you’re keeping track of the venue plans for LeBron James’ likely suitors the summer after next, Madison Square Garden unveiled plans this week for a half-billion dollar facelift. It remains to be seen how The Chosen One might react to a work environment featuring “PARDON OUR APPEARANCE” signs, but compared to the Izod Center, that might not be such a bad thing.