The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been the recipient of $336 million in renovations since Hurricane Katrina blew the roof off in 2005, but those updates didn’t stop a power outage from occurring during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVI.
With the Baltimore Ravens enjoying a 28-6 lead over the San Francisco 49ers, the lights went out in the 38-year-old structure, which is the largest fixed-domed structure in the world. At 7:37 p.m. local time, the arena was pitched into semi-darkness. Two-thirds of the overhead lights went down along with the two major scoreboards. Play was stopped for 34 minutes.
While players stretched and spectators scratched their heads, social media had a field day. According to Twitter, chatter about the power outage peaked at 231,500 tweets per minute. PBS reminded viewers of “alternative programming” #WeHaveDowntonPBS, Oreo Cookie made a huge splash with its suggestive reassurance that “you can still dunk in the dark,” while Calvin Klein was kind enough to offer some blackout entertainment for the ladies by way of a very chiseled, barely-clad male underwear model working his glistening six pack.
Murmurs of terrorism and reports of a fire were quickly quelled by the FBI, who said that terrorism was not the cause of the power outage and dismissed reports of a fire. New Orleans Fire Department spokesman Michael Williams confirmed, stating that there was no fire before, during or after the power outage.
Meanwhile, officials from Entergy, the Superdome’s power utility company, explained that the outage occurred when sensing equipment detected an "abnormality" in the system.
A statement from Entergy and the Superdome noted that a piece of equipment monitoring electrical load sensed the abnormality and triggered an automatic shutdown, partially cutting power. They weren't sure what caused the initial problem.
"The power outage was an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans," Mayor Mitch Landrieau said. "In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved.”
But until then, it’s business as usual, New Orleans-style.
"For us, the Super Bowl isn't over until the last visitor leaves town, so we're focused on continuing to show our visitors a good time," Landrieau added.
See a clip of the outage below:
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