Super Bowl: Cause of power outage still a mystery; investigation begins

The cause of Sunday night’s 34-minute power outage at the Super Bowl remained a mystery Monday, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the incident would not harm New Orleans’s chances of hosting an 11th NFL championship game in the future.

“This will not affect the people’s view in the NFL about the success of the game here in New Orleans,” Goodell said at a news briefing Monday morning. “We know that they have an interest in future Super Bowls and we look forward to evaluating that going forward. I do not think this will have any impact at all on what I think will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks.”

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Only the next two Super Bowls have been scheduled. The 2014 game is at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and in 2015, it’s in Glendale, Ariz.

As authorities began their investigation, Goodell and other officials said there was no indication that the halftime show, which featured Beyonce, caused the outage. The show, which included lighting and pyrotechnics, was run on generator power.

“The halftime show, as the commissioner said, was running on 100 percent of generated power, which means it was not on our power grid at all,” said Doug Thornton, a senior vice president for SMG, which runs the stadium. “As a matter of fact, during the halftime show. . . we had a drop in the amperage used and the consumption of power because our house lights went down; we went to a dark house.”

The Superdome was not plunged into total darkness. Goodell said officials nearly turned to a backup lighting system when the main system came back up. Authorities said they quickly determined that the interruption would be only temporary.

A joint statement, released by the electrical utility Entergy and the Superdome’s management company Monday, said that a piece of equipment sensed an abnormality in the system and that the equipment “operated as designed.”

“Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,” the statement said. “Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue.

“. . . The fault-sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy’s feed into the facility. There were no additional issues detected.

“Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.”

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said the 73,208-seat arena wasn’t that dark. “The funny thing is the light was actually good when the lights went out,” he said. “I don’t know what it looked like on TV, but I think the receivers would have still been able to see the ball in all that.

“The biggest issue was with the headsets. I think our headsets were working; I think theirs weren’t.”

The embarrassing episode followed a largely glitch-free week for New Orleans, which was putting on its first Super Bowl in 11 years in the stadium heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised a full investigation.

 
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