Super Bowl 2013 Blackout: What Caused The Power Outage?

 @moranzhang
on February 04 2013 10:21 AM
Super Bowl Power Outage
Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs waits on the field after half the lights went out in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans, La., Feb. 3. Reuters/Mike Segar

Just barely 90 seconds into the second half of Super Bowl XLVII, about half of the lights at the 73,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Superdome suddenly went out — and delayed the game for 34 minutes.

The Superdome has received more than $470 million in public support since Hurricane Katrina, Bloomberg reports, as taxpayers have footed the bill for renovations and upgrades in the face of threats from ownership and the National Football League to move the team to another city.

Coming in the year’s most-watched TV and sporting event, this was a gaffe beyond embarrassing. The day after the great power outage, people are searching for the cause, or the parties to blame.

Early Monday, Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) and SMG, the company that manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, said in a joint statement that:

“Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system.  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.

“Backup generators kicked in immediately as designed. Entergy and SMG subsequently coordinated startup procedures, ensuring that full power was safely restored to the Superdome.

“The fault-sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy's feed into the facility. There were no additional issues detected. Entergy and SMG [management company of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome] will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.”

Super Bowl XLVII was the most social Super Bowl ever, according to Twitter, which said there were 24.1 million tweets sent about the football game and halftime show on Sunday night, topping last year’s record of 13.7 million by early in the second half.

The largest spike was during the power outage, when Twitter saw 3,858 tweets per second. To put that into perspective, five years ago, at Super Bowl XLII, the highest spike was 27 tweets per second.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued the following statement Sunday night regarding the Super Bowl power outage: "The power outage was an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the City of New Orleans.  In the coming days, I expect a full after action report from all parties involved.  For us, the Super Bowl isn't over until the last visitor leaves town, so we're focused on continuing to show our visitors a good time."

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