Cause of Super Bowl power outage remains unclear
February 4, 2013
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – As the Superdome’s energy provider and stadium management try to determine what caused a 34-minute power outage at Sunday’s Super Bowl, local officials are hoping the incident won’t leave a black eye on the city or prevent the league’s big game from coming back to town.
Larry Roedel, a lawyer for the state board that oversees the Superdome, said Monday that the outage did not appear to be related to work done on the stadium’s electrical system in December. The work, approved by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District last fall, replaced feeder equipment connecting the stadium to power provider Entergy New Orleans.
Entergy and the company that manages the Superdome, 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.
But Doug Thornton, manager of the Superdome, said called the outage an equipment error, not a human one. He said that when the power outage hit, meters indicated the stadium was drawing less power than it does during a typical New Orleans Saints game. The air conditioning system was running, he said, but on less power than it does in September.
Thornton said millions of dollars have been spent upgrading electrical equipment in the building since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and none of it failed. He said it was working properly when power was restored.
He also said there is no evidence that the halftime show had anything to do with the outage, which struck early in the third quarter. He said the show used its own dedicated generator and wasn’t using the Superdome’s power supply.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu told WWL-AM (www.wwl.com) on Monday that the city still wants to make a bid to host the NFL’s championship game again in 2018 and that the outage won’t hurt its chances.
Landrieu said league owners were impressed with the city’s performance as host and even 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,” he said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said New Orleans was a terrific Super Bowl host and that the outage won’t affect future bids.
“I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “And I hope we will be back. We want to be back.”
Goodell also said the Superdome had a backup power system ready to go, and it was about to be used when the power started coming back on.
The Superdome sits on a 52-acre former railroad yard in the business district. Though only a block from City Hall, the 76,000-seat stadium and the adjacent New Orleans Arena are owned by the state, and the seven-member commission that oversees them is appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The Superdome was built at a cost of $134 million and opened in 1975. It has been the home to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints since then. The first Super Bowl was played there in 1978.
Sunday’s game was the seventh Super Bowl at the stadium, and the 10th overall for New Orleans.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped off the Superdome roof as an estimated 30,000 people huddled inside. They waited, rain-drenched, for days in the severe heat that followed the storm.
On Sunday, officials were eager to show off how the city had been rebuilt since Katrina, and the week of activities leading up to the game was nearly perfect.
New Orleans also is home to one of the largest convention centers in the country. Dr. Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, said Monday that the power outage shouldn’t hurt the city’s reputation as a 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.”
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons will hold meetings in New Orleans from April 27 to May 1. Patty Anderson, director of meetings for the group, said she was unconcerned about the outage.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I never even gave it a second thought. To me, the city is bigger, stronger and more vibrant than it’s ever been.”
Associated Press writers Beth Harpaz, Brett Martel and Barry Wilner contributed to this report.