NEW ORLEANS — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put any worry to rest Monday morning that New Orleans would be blacklisted from future Super Bowls, saying the 34-minute power outage wouldn’t have any effect on the league’s view of the city.
In a nearly minute-long unprovoked statement, Goodell spoke of knowing the city’s interest in hosting the 2018 Super Bowl, one that would mark the tercentennial of the city.
“I do not think this will have an effect on future Super Bowls in New Orleans,” Goodell said. “I fully expect to be back here for Super Bowls. I hope we will be back. We want to be back here.”
Still, the power outage, which occurred with a little more than 13 minutes to go in the third quarter, was a disappointing end to an otherwise flawless week.
Doug Thornton, who runs the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for managing company SMG, said they have yet figure out what caused a breaker at an Entergy substation located 1,200 feet off of the building’s property to switch off.
Once power was shunted at that facility, power running through recently upgraded feeder cables disappeared, shutting down energy used to keep the west side of the stadium running.
“We’ve got to work with Entergy and find out why that piece of equipment did what it was supposed to do, which was interrupt the service. It stepped in sensing some abnormality,” Thornton said. “That piece of equipment is in the Entergy vault, which is not located on Superdome property. When that shunts, all of our power supply goes. That’s essentially what happened downstream.
“We don’t know why that happened.”
Thornton ruled out several factors that had been speculated Sunday night, including that the halftime show featuring a power-consumption heavy performance by Beyonce caused an overload.
The halftime show was on a fully generated power grid and was drawing no energy from the Superdome, Thornton said. Additionally, CBS’ massive broadcast also was powered by its own generator.
“So the power consumption last night was at or below a normal Saints game,” Thornton said. “So it wasn’t like we experienced some huge overload in the system inside the Dome. We know that to be fact. It’s fact. We know that. That’s an important fact to make.”
Entergy president and CEO Charles Rice said his company, which supplies the power to the Superdome complex, said they’ve never encountered anything like what happened Sunday night. But he said the system worked as it was designed to.
“We are going to work very closely with SMG to get to the root of the problem,” Rice said. “We both had contingencies in place, and we followed our protocols which were set, which we’ve met. We both made excellent preparations for an event like this, and the system worked the way it was supposed to.”
Thornton said officials knew within two minutes of the lights going out that there was an issue with power going through a feeder line and that nothing more had happened.
Meanwhile, Thornton ruled out sabotage, saying that both Entergy and SMG had people on their respective properties working to make sure everything was running properly.
“I don’t have a conspiracy theory in my mind,” Thornton said. “I really don’t. We had people in our building that were experts. Entergy had experts at their substation. All we know is that substation, there’s a piece of equipment there that’s called a switch that opened that caused an interruption in service to us.”
Beyond the $336 million in repairs made to the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, the complex received $1.2 million in upgrades to the feeder line that stopped receiving power Sunday night. When asked about the possibility of needing a new stadium because the Superdome is 38 years old, Thornton said, “That’s preposterous.”
Regardless of the outage, Goodell said he thinks the past seven days “will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks.”
“This will not affect the view of the NFL of the success of the game here in New Orleans,” the commissioner said.