February 5, 2013

Superdome power an issue even before big game, AP finds

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 on Sunday.

AP

"SMG and others kept us apprised and those reports gave us no real cause for concern," Grubman said. "It is natural and understandable for energy suppliers to be concerned prior to a huge event. If an engineer is asked whether something is 100 percent failsafe, an engineer will normally say, 'No, there is always a risk of failure.'"

Both Entergy and SMG said Sunday that an "abnormality" occurred where stadium equipment intersects with an Entergy electric feed, causing a breaker to create the outage. It remained unclear Monday exactly what the abnormality was or why it occurred.

The lights-out championship game proved an embarrassment for New Orleans 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 were forgiving, and officials expressed confidence that the episode wouldn't hurt the city's hopes of hosting the championship again.

To New Orleans' relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a "terrific" job hosting its first pro-football championship in the post-Katrina era.

"I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls," he said, noting a backup power system was poised to kick in but wasn't needed once the lights came back.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a news conference Tuesday that the outage won't hurt the city's chances of hosting another Super Bowl and he joked that the game got better after the blackout.

"That 34 minutes is not going to cast a shadow over the accomplishments of the city," Landrieu said, calling the event "as near-perfect a Super Bowl as the country has ever seen." He added that officials estimate the game brought $432 million into the city.

Fans watching from home 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.

As for possible culprits, it couldn't be blamed on 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, according to Doug Thornton, the Superdome manager.

He also ruled out Beyonce's electrifying halftime performance. She brought along her own generator.

Officials with the utility and the Superdome were quick to note that an NFL game, the Sugar Bowl and another bowl game were played there in recent weeks with no apparent problems.

Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, chairwoman of the New Orleans City Council's Utility Committee, called an emergency committee meeting Friday with Entergy representatives and others, seeking additional information.

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

The Big Easy 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.

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