NEW ORLEANS – The blackout at the Superdome will not stop the Super Bowl from returning to New Orleans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that despite the electrical outage, which delayed Sunday night’s game for 34 minutes, the city did a terrific job hosting its first pro football championship in the post-Katrina era.
Let me reiterate again what an extraordinary job the city of New Orleans has done, said Goodell, speaking Monday at a post-Super Bowl media conference held for the game’s most valuable player, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, and winning coach John Harbaugh. The most important thing is to make sure people understand it was a fantastic week.
New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including Baltimore’s 34-31 victory over San Francisco, tied for the most with Miami.
While serving as the site of America’s biggest sporting event and focus of an unofficial national holiday gets any place a lot of attention, this game had special meaning for New Orleans.
The city last hosted the Super Bowl in 2002 and officials were hoping this would serve as the ultimate showcase – on a global scale – of how far it has come since being devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm winds tore holes in the roof of the Superdome and there was water damage from the rain that affected electrical systems and caused mold to spread.
More than $330 million has been spent to upgrade the facility, which has hosted the annual Sugar Bowl, Saints games, two BCS title games and a men’s Final Four since the storm.
Yet the loss of power was an embarrassment that quickly became perhaps the signature moment of the Ravens’ win.
Goodell said not to worry.
I do not think this will have an effect on future Super Bowls in New Orleans, he said. I fully expect to be back here for Super Bowls. I hope we will be back. We want to be back here.
Local officials have said they will bid to host an 11th Super Bowl in 2018 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding.
Meanwhile, officials in New York and New Jersey say they will do everything they can to prevent another power outage at the Super Bowl, but energy experts warn it’s almost impossible to guarantee the lights will stay on at any event, let alone the cold-weather championship game at MetLife Stadium in 2014.
University of Pittsburgh energy expert Dr. Gregory Reed said the cost of backing up every system at any stadium would be exorbitant, and the best that stadium operators can do is to examine the power systems before the contest and prepare for every eventuality.
Bill Squires, the former vice president and general manager of Giants Stadium, said the power issue will not only be a hot topic for the NFL and next year’s Super Bowl host committee, but also for all stadium operators.
Neither Al Kelly, the president and chief executive of the organizing committee for next year’s game, nor Public Service Gas & Electric, the utility that provides power to the stadium, wanted to comment on the 34-minute outage at the Superdome until a cause had been determined.
A cause for the outage Sunday has not been determined, though a couple of potential culprits were ruled out.
It wasn’t Beyoncé’s electrifying halftime performance, according to Doug Thornton, manager of the state-owned Superdome, since the singer had her own generator. And it apparently wasn’t 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 Saints game, Thornton said.
The problem that caused the outage was believed to have happened around the spot where a line that feeds current from the local power company, Entergy New Orleans, connects with the Superdome’s electrical system, officials said. But whether the fault lay with the utility or with the Superdome was not clear.
Determining the cause will probably take days, according to Dennis Dawsey, a vice president for distribution and transmission for Entergy. He said the makers of some of the switching gear have been brought in to help figure out what happened.