Super Bowl power outage: Outside experts to investigate cause

NEW ORLEANS Officials of the Superdome and its utility company say they will hire outside experts to investigate why power failed for 34 minutes during the Super Bowl.

The announcement by the stadium’s management company, SMG, and Entergy New Orleans came two days after the outage halted play in the third quarter of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

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Super Bowl blackout: Memo reveals officials worried about failure

Documents show stadium managers were concerned last fall about power lines feeding into the Superdome. Replacement work was done just weeks before the NFL championship game.

On Tuesday, the contractor who performed the work declined to comment.

Arthur Westbrook of Allstar Electric referred all questions to the management company that runs the stadium.

Later Tuesday, city leaders planned a briefing on the city’s performance during Super Bowl week.

The exact cause of Sunday night’s blackout — and who’s to blame — remained unclear late Monday, though a couple of potential culprits had been ruled out.

It wasn’t Beyonce’s electrifying halftime performance, according to Doug Thornton, manager of the state-owned Superdome, since the singer had her own generator. And it apparently wasn’t a case of too much demand for power. Meters showed the 76,000-seat stadium was drawing no more electricity than it does during a typical New Orleans Saints game, Thornton said.

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The lights-out game Sunday proved an embarrassment for the Big Easy just when it was hoping to show the rest of the world how far it has come since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But many fans and residents were forgiving, and officials expressed confidence that the episode wouldn’t hurt the city’s hopes of hosting the championship again.

To New Orleans’ great relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a "terrific" job hosting its first pro football championship in the post-Hurricane Katrina era, and added: "I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls."

Fans watching from their living rooms weren’t deterred, either. An estimated 108.4 million television viewers saw the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, making it the third most-viewed program in television history. Both the 2010 and 2011 games hit the 111 million mark.

The problem that caused the outage was believed to have happened around the spot where a line that feeds current from Entergy New Orleans connects with the Superdome’s electrical system, officials said. But whether the fault lay with the utility or with the Superdome was not clear.

Determining the cause will probably take days, according to Dennis Dawsey, a vice president for distribution and transmission for Entergy. He said the makers of some of the switching gear have been brought in to help figure out what happened.

The blackout came after a nearly flawless week of activity for football fans in New Orleans leading up to the big game.

"I hope that’s not what they’ll remember about this Super Bowl," French Quarter artist Gloria Wallis said. "I hope that what they’ll remember is they had a great time here and that they were welcomed here."

Ravens fan Antonio Prezioso, a Baltimore native who went to the game with his 11-year-old son, said the outage just extended the experience.

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"The more time we could spend at the game was a good thing, as long as it ended the way it did," he said, laughing.

The city last hosted the Super Bowl in 2002, and officials were hoping this would serve as the ultimate showcase for the city’s recovery since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm tore holes in the roof of the Superdome and caused water damage to its electrical systems, and more than $330 million was spent repairing and upgrading the stadium.

Sunday’s Super Bowl was New Orleans’ 10th as host, and officials plan to make a bid for an 11th in 2018.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu told CBS Radio affiliate WWL-AM Monday that the outage won’t hurt the city’s chances, and he joked that the game got better after the blackout: "People were leaving and the game was getting boring, so we had to do a little something to spice it up."


Source : cbsnews[dot]com

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