Who Turned Out the Lights?

By Kristen Hassey

Super Bowl XLVII was well under way. Beyonce had just graced the world with her presence, the Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 and there was 13:22 left to play in the third quarter. Then the game came to a screeching halt when half of the 73,000 seat Superdome suddenly went dark.  Fortunately, auxiliary power kept the dome from going completely black, but that didn’t spare the scoreboard, press box, escalators and concourses from power-loss.

Many fans chose to do the wave to pass the time. Some of the players hung out and talked on the sidelines while many took to the field, passing the ball and stretching to stay warm, It ultimately took 34 minutes for stadium officials to resolve the issue and slowly bring the dome back to life. Play finally resumed around 8:10 p.m. after which the momentum switched to the 49ers who added on three more touchdowns to narrow the gap to five points with a score of 28-23 by the end of the third quarter.

Perhaps the Niners weren’t as thrown-off by the unexpected outage as the Ravens were since they are no strangers to technical difficulties. Just a few weeks ago, on December 20, 2011, the power at their own Candlestick Park (no pun intended) went out twice during the 49ers game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The city of San Francisco later admitted it was at fault for the outage and delays in getting the lights back on.

According to Philip Allison, a spokesman for Entergy New Orleans, the city was not going to take the blame for this one. “All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected…The outage appeared to originate in a failure of equipment maintained by stadium staff” Allison said. Entergy New Orleans even tweeted about the outage, “Power issue at the Super Dome appears to be in the customer’s side. Entergy is providing power to the Dome.”

I can’t say that I blame Allison and Entergy New Orleans for dismissing any possibility of the city’s involvement in the issue. It has been 11 years since New Orleans has hosted the big game and needed this weekend to go smoothly in order to prove itself since rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina. To New Orleans’ relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a “terrific” job hosting its Super Bowl since Katrina and said he “fully expected” to be back in New Orleans for future Super Bowls.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, the post-blackout momentum swing just wasn’t enough of a boost to push them past the Ravens who went on to win by a narrow score of 34-31.

Needless to say, there are still questions the NFL will need to answer about what exactly happened in the Superdome on Sunday. Like: which end was the problem on? Was Beyonce’s halftime show to blame? If it wasn’t Beyonce, what was it?

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