Photo Credit: AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Super Bowl week that had gone so smoothly for the Big Easy suddenly turned bizarre when everyone was watching.
The lights went out on the biggest game of the year.
Just imagine the uproar if Baltimore had lost.
The Ravens were cruising along with a 28-6 lead Sunday night when, without warning, the power to the Superdome suddenly shut down early in the third quarter, plunging parts of the 38-year-old stadium into darkness and leaving TV viewers with no football and no explanation why.
For 34 minutes, the players tried to stay loose, the fans milled about in darkened corridors, and stadium officials scrambled to figure out what went wrong. The Ravens barely hung on for a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, needing a goal-line stand in the closing minutes to preserve the championship.
“It really hurt us,” Baltimore fullback Vonta Leach said. “We had lot of momentum.”
About two hours after the game, officials revealed that an “abnormality” in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But they weren’t sure about the source of the problem.
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.”
The outage provided a major glitch to what has largely been viewed as a smooth week for the city, which was hosting its first Super Bowl since 2002 and was eager to show off how it has been rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina.
But there is sure to be some fallout for the city and the Superdome — especially since New Orleans plans to bid for the title game in 2018, in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of its founding.
“In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved,” Landrieu said.
Escalators stopped working and credit-card machines shut down, though auxiliary power kept the playing field and concourses from going totally dark.
“We sincerely apologize for the incident,” Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said.
Most fans seemed to take the outage in stride, even starting up the wave to pass the time.
“So we had to spend 30 minutes in the dark? That was just more time for fans to refill their drinks,” said Amanda Black of Columbus, Miss.
A joint statement from Entergy New Orleans, which provides power to the stadium, and Superdome operator SMG shed some light on the chain of events, which apparently started at the spot where Entergy feeds power into the stadium’s lines. The problem occurred shortly after Beyonce put on a halftime show that featured extravagant lighting and video effects.
“A piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,” the statement said. “Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue. … Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.”