News Column

Odd Delay at Super Bowl

Feb 4, 2013

By Lindsay H. Jones

The power went out for 33 minutes in half of the Superdome, not long after singer Beyonce finished her high-powered halftime show.

At 7:37 p.m. CT, the lights flicked off on the side of the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers bench, TV and radio booths and press box are located. CBS' broadcast was briefly knocked off the air, and all of the video boards in the stadium went dark. Full power was not restored until 7:58 p.m., and play resumed at 8:10 p.m.

"Stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage," the NFL said in a statement. A league spokesman declined further comment.

Play was suspended following a 6-yard sack of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and players retreated to their bench areas during the delay. San Francisco players milled about calmly while players from Baltimore -- leading 28-6 -- sat on the turf to stretch their legs. Several Ravens players tossed a football back and forth.

Fans, meanwhile, entertained themselves by chanting and singing, including multiple renditions of Baltimore's rally song Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes. Some fans tried to start the wave and booed when the wave stopped on the far side of the stadium.

A few blocks away in the French Quarter, the power remained on the whole time. Fans watched TVs in restaurants and bars in stunned disbelief as the game came to a halt while the Superdome regained power.

Renee Mendoza, a 49ers fan from San Jose, Calif., watched from a table at the Royal House Oyster Bar. Her husband, Ray, who was at the game, was texting her updates and pictures from inside the Superdome during the blackout. She said she hoped the outage would slow the Ravens' momentum.

"Hopefully it'll throw the Ravens off and the 49ers will get their head back in the game," Mendoza, 49, said. It did. After the power came back on, San Francisco began a comeback.

After Beyonce's halftime set concluded, but before the second half began, a fire alarm went off in the press box in a hallway in the upper level of the stadium, between the Ravens' coaches booth and a radio broadcast booth. The alarm resumed its chirping when power was restored and was not turned off for another six minutes.

The outage caused multiple problems in the stadium. Radio communication was at least temporarily lost between the AFC coaches booth and the sideline. An elevator went out of service, and air conditioning and Internet service were lost.

CBS was able to power up its set on the far side of the stadium, just past the Baltimore bench in order to broadcast updates during the outage. "Immediately after the power failure in the Superdome, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome," the network said in a statement. "We utilized CBS' back-up power and at no time did we leave the air. ... All commercial commitments during the broadcast are being honored."

Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan apologized for the outage once play resumed but had no further explanation for the outage.

Entergy, the local electric company, said in a message posted on its Twitter account that there were no power issues outside of the Dome, and the "power issue at the Superdome appears to be in the customer's side."

While the power outage at the Superdome was a nightmare for some, it presented a golden marketing opportunity for some brands.

Buffalo Wild Wings, Audi, Tide and Oreo were among the brands that used the break in action to engage with their fans during the power outage.

For example, Audi tweeted about sending LED lights to the Superdome. The tweet received more than 8,000 retweets and was favorited more than 2,000 times.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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