Breaking Down the Super Bowl Blackout
As you are almost undoubtedly aware, based on its 48.1/71Nielsen rating, (the highest rating ever) the Super Bowl came and went this past Sunday. The game had great storylines; two brother head coaches facing off for the first time in NFL history, the official end of the Ray Lewis saga, the emergence of rookie 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and his impressive mobility, along with the end of the impending discussion regarding “pocket passers” becoming obsolete in the NFL after the sparkling performance of Ravens QB Joe Flacco.
Quite frankly, it didn’t need another headline grabber - especially one that could sully the image of the Super Bowl’s host city, New Orleans, which was hosting the big game for the first time since Hurricane Katrina decimated the region in 2005.
But as long-time ESPN analyst Chris Berman would put it, “THAT’S why they play the game!”
Even Berman couldn’t have foreseen the 34 minute delay early in the third quarter from a blackout that left players, coaches, CBS and millions of viewers puzzled. Entergy, the utility responsible for the power to the Superdome, and SMG, the Superdome’s management company, released a joint statement Monday regarding the situation. They cited an “abnormality” in the system that did not affect the electrical draw away from the stadium. The full statement is below – (via Nola.com)
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 start up 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 will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality
As their statement affirms, Entergy and SMG were quick to note that the blackout was not caused by exhausting the grid. “All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected,” said Philip Allison, spokesman for Entergy New Orleans. Doug Thornton, Superdome manager, even pointed out that electrical draw was actually lower than typical usage for a New Orleans Saints game at the time of the outage.
Although all electrical equipment acted properly during the outage, electrical upgrades were a main concern of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), the public authority that owns the Superdome, over the past six months. Meetings between the SMG and the LSED in autumn resulted in over $500,000 being approved for an “Emergency Feeder Repair Project,” to be completed in time for the Super Bowl. The purpose of the funding was to attain “100 percent redundancy,” as Doug Thornton put it after a November meeting, between Entergy and the Superdome.
On a positive note, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear the blackout wouldn’t denigrate the NFL’s perception of New Orleans, which is one of the cities being considered for the 2018 Super Bowl bid. Goodell affirmed, “We [know New Orleans has] an interest in future Super Bowls, and we look forward to evaluating that. Going forward, I don’t think this will have any impact at all on what I think will be remembered for one of the greatest Super Bowl weeks… I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls…and I hope we will be back. We want to be back.”
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