NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – The Super Bowl, America’s iconic sporting spectacle, resumed Sunday after being halted for 35 minutes by a power outage at the Louisiana Superdome, the first such mishap in the game’s history.
The same 73,000-seat stadium where survivors of Hurricane Katrina fled for refuge in 2005 only to find peril and heartache was once again plunged into darkness and momentary chaos when the lights went out.
“We sincerely apologize for the incident,” Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said.
Referees told CBS News that an electrical feed into the Superdome went out, causing the power outage that shut down the power early in the third quarter of the gridiron classic.
But Twitter messages from Entergy New Orleans blamed the problem on the Superdome, saying, “Power issue at the Super Dome appears to be in the customer’s side. Entergy is providing power to the Dome.
“At all times, our distribution & transmission feeders were serving Superdome. We continue working w/ Superdome to address any issues.”
The National Football League said that “stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage,” and promised to provide more information as it becomes available.
The Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 after 98 seconds of the third quarter in Super Bowl 47. The game was halted with the 49ers facing a third-down play needing 14 yards to make a first down.
Play resumed with the 49ers unable to gain the needed yardage and forced to punt the ball back to Baltimore.
Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half and the Ravens kicked the ball to San Francisco, setting the stage for the moment the lights went out.
After a brief time of pitch darkness during which fans began chanting in rhythm, half the lights in the stadium flashed back on, leaving the Super Bowl shut down in a bizarre situation and sending both teams to the sidelines.
While the remainder of the lighting powered back into full brightness, players were left to try and find ways to stay warmed up and keep their concentration, throwing or kicking balls.
The unprecedented delay confounded the Ravens, who had momentum fully on their side. The 49ers struck back for two touchdowns and a field goal later in the third quarter to trim Baltimore’s advantage entering the fourth quarter.
The Super Bowl has become something of a national holiday in the United States, with viewing parties boosting food and alcohol sales and viewership of game telecasts among the most watched television programs in US history.
A week of lavish parties and celebrity outings has become commonplace at every Super Bowl venue.
And of course, NFL players took to Twitter to comment on the power outage.
“What’s the odds of this happening? That New Orleans voodoo??” tweeted NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Some players on both teams spoke with spectators near the field during the unplanned break while sections of fans performed the “wave.”
Concession stands and scoreboards were shut down, as were lights in stadium hallways and even the locker rooms. Power went out in the media center as well, leaving journalists scrambling to find out what was happening.
The power outage came only a few minutes after a half-time show filled with electrical and lighting wizardry that starred pop diva Beyonce, one for which the main stadium lights were turned off.
Strangely enough, the 49ers actually had some experience in dealing with have a game interrupted by the lights going out.
In a December 2011 home game against Pittsburgh, the 49ers had the lights go out twice in a night game at their home stadium, Candlestick Park.
Next year, the game is set to be played in suburban New York, the first time in the Super Bowl era the National Football League will play its title game in a cold-weather city without a domed stadium.