Behind the Headlines: Superbowl Blackout

Power outage during Super Bowl XLVII game on February 3, 2013

(from Venues Today, February 6, 2013) Super Bowl XLVII, held on February 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, was nothing less than complete excitement even with the power outage that caused a 34-minute game delay. Days later and the cause of the outage is still unknown. Doug Thornton, SMG Regional Vice President on site, is leading the investigation to hopefully get down to the root of the problem.

Alan Freeman, General Manager of the venue for SMG stated, “We know where it occurred, but not why it occurred. It happened at the intersection of the utility company’s power to us and us hooking into the power.” Thornton and Freeman both confirmed they had upgraded the power system months in advance by fixing two feeder lines that sourced power to the stadium. One of those feeder lines went down during the game and left the dome with 50% of lighting.

Several weeks prior to the Super Bowl, Thornton and staff simulated a power outage so they could document where emergency power and circuit breakers would need to be turned off or opened and what steps would need to be taken in order to get the place back up and running again. In doing this, the staff knew what to do when the circumstance actually did take place and were able to deal with the guests accordingly.

Despite all the attention the power outage has received, it didn’t stop the event from continuing to be highly successful. “Concessions and catering, managed by Centerplate, grossed more than $5 million, phenomenal numbers. The National Football League reported ticketed attendance of 71,024. That does not include press and staff,” said Thornton.

Entergy New Orleans Inc., the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, and SMG are making a collective decision on what third party to hire in order to determine the cause. It will take a few weeks to get the reports back of what caused the outage, but these results will help in fixing the problem and making sure it won’t happen again in the future.