The Sports Archives – The Super Bowl Lighting Disaster: What Went Wrong?

2013 Super Bowl XLVII Blackout

Even if you know nothing about football, have never watched one single game and don’t know the shape of the ball they use, you most likely know at least one thing about the 2013 Super Bowl, the lights went out.

Of course, the story has been hashed and rehashed in every major news venue from coast to coast and the cause and effects have been analyzed.  So let’s take a look at what caused this roaring sports arena to turn into the epitome of a sci-fi thriller film.

Was the Problem Machine Misuse or Malfunction?

The blame game is being played across the board. However, simply placing the blame on something or someone doesn’t necessarily prove guilt.  According to Entergy officials (the electrical company used in the Super Bowl) the switchgear, which acts kind of like a series of circuit-breakers was the cause of the outage.

They say that the outage was triggered by an abnormality in the electrical load causing the switchboard system to malfunction and cut the power.

This is only one side of the story though. The manufacturers of the circuit-boards aren’t going to just sit around and take the blame.

Instead they are throwing the blame straight back at the Electrical company saying that they were operating the equipment incorrectly at the time of the blackout.

The Upgrades

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome ironically had just completed a nearly four and a half million dollar upgrade to the electrical system just prior to the Super Bowl.  This upgrade was primarily to install the switchgear which supposedly caused the loss of power.

This system was installed as a precaution to prevent an outage similar to the San Francisco 49ers power outage of 2011 from occurring again, during the biggest game of the season.

This switchboard system actually worked exactly as designed according to manufacturers.  It detected an abnormality in the electrical load system and opened a breaker, which cut power to part of the Superdome in order to properly take care of the issue.

Effects of a Massive Outage

A power outage in the middle of the biggest sporting event of the year is a pretty big deal no matter what way you cut it.  However, it may have been the biggest turning point of the game.

The outage allowed the football franchises to have an extended time out, which rejuvenated the fans, coaches, players, and even advertisers, especially as the 49ers started their big comeback.  Unfortunately the comeback wasn’t enough and the 49ers fell to the Baltimore Ravens.

The 49ers weren’t the only ones that suffered either.  The electrical company, and even the manufacturers of the switchboard will most likely have to answer for this “accident” for years to come.

By Heidi Rothert

Heidi Rothert writes for a lighting and electrician, Layton, UT company that won’t let you down.  She also writes for the beauty, HVAC, plumbing and construction industries to improve their online image.

Photo Credit:

Related Blogs:
Top 5: What Made The Super Bowl So Memorable?
Super Bowl XLVII: The Ultimate Guide!

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