The Super Bowl power outage on Sunday happened after electrical monitoring equipment “sensed an abnormality in the system,” according to the power provider for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Entergy, which provides power to the Superdome, along with 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, said in a statement Monday that the change triggered a partial electrical shutdown. Entergy’s service area includes 400,000 customers in southeast Texas, including homes in Beaumont, Port Arthur, The Woodlands, Huntsville and Conroe. The only customer affected by the problem was the Superdome, Entergy spokesman Michael Burns told FuelFix.
“Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,” Entergy said in a joint statement with stadium operator SMG. “Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue.”
CBS has released video showing the confusion in the Superdome control room as the lights went out.
The outage partially darkened the stadium when half the lights shut off and scoreboards went out throughout the arena. It caused a 34 minute delay in play that was credited with shifting momentum in Sunday night’s NFL championship game. The partial blackout was followed by an offensive surge from the San Francisco 49ers, who lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a game that came down to the final seconds.
Entergy and SMG said backup generators “kicked in immediately as designed” and that full power was restored.
It was not clear what caused the “abnormality.” CBS broadcasters initially reported that the NFL suspected a power surge was the problem.
“The fault-sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy’s feed into the facility,” the statement said.
The FBI does not suspect any kind of attack played a role int he partial blackout, Mary Beth Romig, a spokeswoman for the bureau’s New Orleans field office, told FuelFix.
“We have no indication that last night’s power outage in the dome was ever a result of a threat of terror or a cyber attack,” Romig said.
The outage occurred shortly after an energy-intensive halftime performance from Beyonce, involving light displays, video boards and fireworks.
The companies said they are still investigating the incident to determine the “root cause of the abnormality.”
“We’re conducting a root-cause analysis to determine exactly what happened,” Burns said. “We’re obviously trying to do it as quickly as possible.”
The companies said no additional issues were detected in the electrical system.
Twitter had a few other theories about what caused the blackout: