NEW ORLEANS - Who turned out the lights?
The day after the 34-minute blackout at the Super Bowl, the exact cause - and who's to blame - were unclear, though a couple of potential culprits had been ruled out.
It wasn't Beyoncé's electrifying halftime performance, according to Doug Thornton, manager of the state-owned Superdome, since the singer had her own generator. And it apparently wasn't a case of too much demand for power. Meters showed the 76,000-seat stadium was drawing no more electricity than it does during a typical New Orleans Saints game, Thornton said.
The lights-out game Sunday proved an embarrassment for the Big Easy just when it was hoping to show the rest of the world how far it has come since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But many fans and residents were forgiving, and officials expressed confidence that the episode wouldn't hurt the city's hopes of hosting the championship again.
To New Orleans' great relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a "terrific" job hosting its first pro football championship in the post-Katrina era, and added: "I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls."
Fans watching from their living rooms weren't deterred, either. An estimated 108.4 million people saw the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, making it the third-most-viewed program in television history. Both the 2010 and 2011 games hit the 111 million mark.
The problem that caused the outage was believed to have happened around the spot where a line that feeds current from the local power company, Entergy New Orleans, connects with the Superdome's electrical system, officials said. But whether the fault lay with the utility or with the Superdome was not clear.
Determining the cause will probably take days, according to Dennis Dawsey, a vice president for distribution and transmission for Entergy. He said the makers of some of the switching gear have been brought in to help figure out what happened.
An attorney for the state board that oversees the Superdome said the blackout did not appear to be related to the replacement in December of electrical equipment connecting the stadium to Entergy. Officials with the utility and the Superdome noted that an NFL game, the Sugar Bowl and another bowl game were played there in recent weeks with no apparent problems.
The blackout came after a nearly flawless week of activity for football fans in New Orleans leading up to the big game.
"I hope that's not what they'll remember about this Super Bowl," French Quarter artist Gloria Wallis said. "I hope that what they'll remember is they had a great time here and that they were welcomed here."