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NFL still in dark about power outage

Cause unknown; city draws praise

Ravens players limber up during the 34-minute power outage at the Superdome that was a Super Bowl first.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty images

Ravens players limber up during the 34-minute power outage at the Superdome that was a Super Bowl first.

NEW ORLEANS — On Monday morning, NFL, Superdome, and local energy officials were still trying to find the cause of the 34-minute power outage during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII.

The phrase of the morning was “unfortunate circumstance,” and all involved wanted to make it clear that New Orleans had been great hosts and will get consideration for another Super Bowl.

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“They’re going through a process they call a ‘root-cause analysis,’ which I could not explain to you, but we will do it,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “The most important thing is to make sure that people understand it was a fantastic week here. I do not think this will have any impact at all on what I think will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks.”

The power outage will most certainly be remembered. It was an embarrassing event on sports’ grandest stage, and regardless of whether there is any blame to be placed, it doesn’t erase the fact that the NFL’s marquee showcase was unexpectedly interrupted.

Doug Thornton, vice president of stadiums and arenas for SMG, which manages the Superdome, was as surprised as anyone when the power went out at 7:37 p.m. local time, with the 49ers on offense in the third quarter.

“My reaction was just like everyone else — wasn’t quite sure what was going on,” Thornton said. “But as the manager of the stadium and knowing a little bit about the systems, I felt like we were having a problem with one of our feeders into the building.

“The good news is that we had people in place that could quickly work to restore power. Our electricians and electrical consultants were there, and we were able to quickly work on that. . . . These are the things that we drill for, these kinds of emergencies.

“It was an unfortunate circumstance, and it took awhile to get power back on, but you can imagine in a building that size, when you have an interruption in service, it takes awhile.”

It had been speculated that Beyonce’s halftime concert may have caused the outage, but officials disputed that theory.

“The halftime show was running on 100 percent of generated power, which means it was not on our power grid at all,” Thornton said. “There was no correlation at this point that we can make with the halftime show.”

Nor did the fire alarm that started to sound around halftime on the 700 level, where the press box and coaches boxes are, have an impact. According to Thornton, the alarm went off when an individual accidentally hit an alarm.

The Superdome is one of the oldest stadiums still in use in the NFL, having opened in 1975. There were questions about whether the age of the facility will hinder its chances of hosting another Super Bowl or if older stadiums in general should not be considered to host the game.

“I would say this — we have spent millions of dollars upgrading our systems in that facility, including our electrical theater system,” Thornton said. “We have hosted numerous events since [Hurricane] Katrina, and most recently, the entire football season [the Superdome is home to the New Orleans Saints, Tulane University, and a number of college football bowl games]. We have never experienced this problem before.”

SMG is working with Entergy, the energy company that supplies the stadium.

Goodell shot down the notion that the outage could affect New Orleans’ chances of hosting another Super Bowl in the Superdome.

“This is clearly something that can be fixed and it’s clearly something that we can prepare for, and we will,” Goodell said. “But . . . I do not think this will have an impact on future Super Bowls here in New Orleans.

“I fully expect we’ll be back here for Super Bowls, and I hope that’s the case.

“We want to be back here.”

.   .   .

The game fell short of setting a viewership record, but stands as the third most-watched program in US television history. The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 108.4 million people watched the Ravens’ 34-31 victory over the 49ers.

The most-watched events in in US TV history were last year’s game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.
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