February 4, 2013

Cause of Super Bowl power outage remains a mystery

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Fans and members of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers wait for power to return in the Superdome during an outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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.

"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 WWL-AM on 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."

The chairwoman of the New Orleans City Council's Utility Committee has called an emergency meeting for Friday to discuss the power outage.

Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist for nola.com and The Times-Picayune, wrote that the power outage gave the media "an opportunity to laugh at the apparent ineptitude or suggest that the ghosts of Hurricane Katrina were haunting the Superdome."

"That's not the kind of attention the city was looking for, obviously," he wrote, "but it's certainly too soon to say if people will remember the power shortage over San Francisco's furious comeback attempt against Baltimore or if this will harm the city's future opportunities to host the Super Bowl."

Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University's Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, said the episode shouldn't hurt the city's reputation as a big convention destination. "I think people view it for what it was: an unusual event with a near-record power draw," he said. "It was the equivalent of a circuit breaker flipping."

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