Super Bowl XLVII
12:21 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Superdome, Entergy and NFL Comment on Power Outage

Quotes from the press conference held today on the power outage at the Superdome during yesterday's Super Bowl.

At the press conference was:

Doug Thornton, SMG Senior VP of Stadiums and Arenas

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Eric Grubman, NFL VP of Business Operations

Charles Rice, President and CEO of Entergy

On the power outage during Super Bowl XLVII:

Roger Goodell: “Just a couple of quick things very quickly. First, let me reiterate again what an extraordinary job the city of New Orleans has done. On the blackout, we have a few people here to address some of those issues for you more specifically, but obviously we’re going to be working to find out what actually caused the issue. They’re going through a process they call a ‘root cause analysis,’ which I could not explain to you, but we will do it. The most important thing is to make sure that people understand it was a fantastic week here. This will not affect the peoples’ view in the NFL about the success of the game here in New Orleans. We know that they have an interest in future Super Bowls and we look forward to evaluating that going forward. 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. And, again, we thank the people of New Orleans for that.”

On the backup plan for power during the game:

Goodell: “Well there was actually another backup system. Doug Thorton, who runs the Superdome, is here, and can give you more details. But, there was another system that they were ready to reboot just about when the system came back up.”

On if last night’s power outage will affect the decision to play another Super Bowl in New Orleans and other older stadiums:

Goodell: “I don’t agree with that. Until we know what the cause was, I’m not sure we can draw that conclusion. But, this is clearly something that can be fixed and it’s clearly something that we can prepare for. And, we will. In the future we’ll want to make sure that we do everything possible to avoid this once we’ve identified the cause. But to your core question, 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. I hope we will be back here. We want to be back here.”

On if there are issues related to last night’s power outage that they will discuss with MetLife Stadium in anticipation of Super Bowl XLVIII:

Goodell: “Well, I’m smiling a little because one of the other guests that I was sitting with last night was (New Jersey) Governor (Christopher) Christie. So yes, we’ve already had that conversation. He’s already hard to work on that. But, I think that’s the issue; we always identify this as a potential concern, and it’s something that we always have to do proper steps to make sure we prepare for it. There’s one other point that I’ve seen a little speculation about — there’s no indication at all that this was caused by the halftime show. Absolutely none. I know that’s been out there, to say that Beyoncé’s halftime show had something to do with it; that is not the case from anything that we have at this point.”

On if the fire alarm that was accidentally triggered in the press box was connected to the power outage:

Goodell: “I think we’re going to have these guys available, and they’ll be able to give you any of those details. So why don’t we move to that right now. Thank you.”

On where he was and his reaction when the power went out:

Doug Thornton: “Well, I was in NFL Control. We had just finished the halftime show and the lights had come back up and been restored after halftime, as they normally would. We were probably seven or eight minutes removed from that, and of course my reaction was just like everyone else — wasn’t quite sure what was going on, 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, and I know that’s a technical question. The good news is that we had people in place that could quickly work to restore the power. We had a lot of our experts on site, as we normally do when we have big events like this. Our electricians and our electrical consultants were there, and we were able to quickly work on that. We were also pleased that the generated power worked, as it should. As the Commissioner reported, there were no injuries, (and) people remained calm. We had a preprogrammed announcement that was actually played. These are things that we drill for, these kinds of emergencies. It was an unfortunate circumstance, and it took a while to get the power back on, but you can imagine in a building that size, when you have an interruption in service, it takes a while. You’ve got to de-energize so that you can bring the systems back up. It’s a very complicated system:  there’s scoring equipment, telephone switches, coaches headsets. All of those things get affected, so it took a while to get that equipment back up and running.”

On how the situation sits with him after the buildup to the Super Bowl:

Thornton: Well after all that we’ve been through here in New Orleans, it seems like we can’t escape the worldwide attention of these kinds of events. It was an unfortunate circumstance at such a great moment for the city. I think the city was just spectacular this week. The host committee did a great job; it was a flawless event up until that point. It was just a spectacular week. So obviously for me it’s a disappointing moment, but when you’re relying on systems it’s not a human error, it’s an equipment error. We’ll get to the root cause of it and we’ll find out what it is. It’s very disappointing.”

On if the power outage was related to a fire alarm that went off in the press box or to the halftime show:

Thornton: Let me address both of those. First the fire alarm. We had a report right before halftime that someone had inadvertently hit a first alarm in the press box, causing it to go off. It is our belief that that has nothing whatsoever to do, there is no correlation at all, with the interruption that we had last night into our main switch gear room. A fire alarm in the 700 level on a circuit in that building, a small little area of the building, would not impact, we would not believe, the interruption of service that we experienced. The halftime show, as the Commissioner said, was running on 100 percent of generated power, which means it was not on our power grid at all. As a matter of fact, during the halftime show we were metering the amperage, as we normally do, and we had a drop in the amperage used and the consumption of power because our house lights went down; we went to a dark house. There was no correlation at this point, that we can make with the halftime show, because it was on 100-percent generated power.”

On if the Superdome may have been part of the problem:

Thornton: “All we know is that we had an interruption in service that occurred. We’re going to work with Entergy, our partner here, to determine the root cause of that. That analysis is underway right now. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. We know that the interruption of service, it was a piece of equipment, and Charles (Rice) can get into details here, that did its job. It sensed some abnormalities in their sub-station and it shunted the power to the Superdome. We don’t know anything beyond that. So it’s premature at this point to say what it was or what caused it.”

On whether this is something that will go into the process of looking at host cities going forward:

Eric Grubman: “There are two questions in there. The first is, ‘Does this affect how we look at a venue when we put on an event? The answer is yes. It has been. I would simply say, looking at this before the event and during that situation last night with the outage, there were multiple sources of power with redundancy. Steps were taken to make sure that the significant, raw power for the halftime show was put on dedicated generator sources. When you start thinking about that from your own house, you get multiple sources of power into your house and your generator, you have taken a lot of steps. In terms of New Orleans, if you look at it from the perspective of how much fun people had and how flawlessly the city hosted the Super Bowl, all the fans and the teams, there is no question that this is actually pretty small in the grand scale of things.”

On contingency plans to have the game played somewhere else:

Grubman: “There are contingencies for everything except the complete unknown. We were able to pretty quickly determine — the NFL, SMG, and Entergy working together — we were able to determine that we did not have a situation that was going to cause a permanent interruption of the game. There wasn’t a safety issue, there were multiple power sources available. There were experts on site on the Entergy side of the system and the SMG side of the system. It was a matter of, once we determined everything was in safe condition, it was going through the startup procedure, which is very complicated.”

On whether contingency plans exist for every stadium if the game is interrupted and cannot be completed there:

Grubman: “Yes, and I’d point you to our staff who could tell you about other situations in NFL history. The Comissioner has that sole authority, and he’s there and he’s getting full reports. If something were to happen, he’ll make that decision and we’ll move to the next best possibility. That was not in consideration last night because that was not what was at play.”

On whether a previous power outage during a game at MetLife Stadium will now be looked at in further detail:

Grubman: “Yes, of course. I would. I would also ask all of you, and there have been a number of big storms down here and a number of big storms in the Northeast recently. Most of us throughout the country have experienced power interruptions. Yes, when you have a situation like this, you look at what you can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, or if it does, that you have a backup plan. This is actually what happens at a stadium, just on a much bigger scale.”

On whether the fact that the Superdome is 38 years old plays into the situation:

Thornton: “I would say this: we have spent millions of dollars upgrading our systems in that facility, including our electrical theater system. We have hosted numerous events since Katrina, and most recently, this entire football season. A Sugar Bowl was played here right before the Super Bowl. We have never experienced this problem before, so we’re going to get to the root cause of it and work with Entergy to find out what happened. I would say we’ve spent millions of dollars on the facility, we’ve upgraded it, and it’s evident that we haven’t had this type of issue.”

On whether he thinks that the Saints need to have a new stadium:

Thornton: “I think that’s premature. I think that the Comissioner said it best in that we need to analyze what happened here in terms of a root cause. It’s premature at this point to speculate. I know there was some speculation yesterday about what side of the street it was on, but it’s premature to speculate on that right now. I would just tell you what I said to Brett, and that is we’ve spent millions of dollars upgrading our facility, including our electrical theater system, and we have not had an interruption in the past.”

On whether he thinks a bigger upgrade is necessary in order to host big events at the Superdome in the future:

Thornton: “If we determine there is some sort of electrical issue inside the facility, we will address it. Like the Commissioner said, these are fixable problems. At this point, it’s premature to speculate on what the issue is. All I can tell you is we spent millions of dollars upgrading our facility, including our electrical theater system.”

On whether Rice has ever encountered anything like this:

Charles Rice: “Not to this scale. I can tell you this: we are going to work very closely with SMG to get to the root of the problem. 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.”

On the calm reaction of the fans when the event occurred:

Grubman: “There are a set of protocols and procedures in place to quickly check, when something of this nature happens, to quickly check with police, fire, security (and) perimeters to see if there was anything else that would indicate that there was something more than a power problem. That was incredibly fast. It was pretty obvious, and (we knew) pretty quick that it was a power situation. There was a public service announcement that goes on with the fans. There was lighting in the building, not only in half the building, but the emergency lighting. People stayed calm. Everyone wants to watch a football game, and so the fans acted with the belief, because the PA announcer made the public service announcement, that there was a power problem and that it was going to come back on, just as you or I would have acted if we were in our seats. That’s what you and I did. I think that, as was described by Doug, the fact that the shutdown and restart being many, many complicated steps is what took time. Even though the fans didn’t understand it, I think that they were confident that it was a power issue that was going to be resolved.”

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