Super Bowl blackout mystery probed; New Orleans as host praised


NEW ORLEANS -- Officials from the NFL, Superdome and Entergy, the company that provides power to the stadium, still were working Monday to unravel the mystery of why the lights went out for 34 minutes of Super Bowl XLVII the previous night, although the league emphasized it would not affect New Orleans’ chances to host future Super Bowls.

“We know that they have an interest in future Super Bowls, and we look forward to evaluating that,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “I do not think this will have any effect at all. What I think will be remembered is that it was one of the great Super Bowl weeks, and we thank the people of New Orleans for that.”

Meanwhile, officials worked through a process called a root-cause analysis to determine what was responsible for half of the stadium lights cutting out, causing the game to be stopped and casting the stadium in twilight-like darkness. There are two main power feeders into the building, and one of those feeders went out, which is why the west half of the building had no lights but the east half did.

Entergy hastily issued a statement Sunday night that was unauthorized by the NFL and Superdome, saying it was a problem inside the building, although it remained unclear Monday whether it might have been an issue with Entergy’s substation, located 1,200 feet from the venue, or possibly a downstream problem at the larger power station four blocks away.

In a written statement, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the outage “an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans.”

Wrote Landrieu: “In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved.”

Executive Doug Thornton, who runs the Superdome for SMG, said millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to upgrade the electrical system at the venue — including $1.2 million in December to have 12 new electrical feeder cables from the substation installed — and the building had no such interruptions in power in the dozens of major events held there.

Thornton added that the Super Bowl halftime show and CBS had their own generated power supplies, so those would not have affected the building’s power. In addition, he said, because it was a cool night, the power consumption was actually below that of a New Orleans Saints game during August or September, when the air conditioners are working overtime.

“We can’t say that this is a stadium issue; we don’t know what the root cause is,” Thornton said. “Certainly, we were all disappointed that we had to delay the game for a period of time, but we were very happy that we were able to get it restored and that Entergy was able to get the service back up.”