Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com A Superdome power outage forced a 35-minute delay of the Super Bowl on Sunday. The NFL said the game was in no danger of not being completed.

Bright ideas? NFL had a few

Contingency plans were ready following Super Bowl power outage

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C

NEW ORLEANS – NFL officials were sure they'd get the Super Bowl finished Sunday night.

And if they couldn't, the league championship would not have ended where it temporarily stopped, with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter. The Lombardi Trophy goes to the winner after 60 minutes, not 32.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday the Superdome had a backup power system that was about to be used during the Super Bowl's electrical outage. It wasn't needed because power started coming back at that time, he said.

Superdome and utility officials were still trying to nail down the precise cause of the 35-minute outage, but league officials said that, because of the backup system, the game wasn't in danger of being postponed.

"That was not a consideration (Sunday) night," NFL vice president of business operations Eric Grubman said at a news conference Monday. "That is not what was at play."

Goodell was sitting with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the game. The Meadowlands will host next year's Super Bowl.

"We already had the conversation," Goodell said about avoiding a repeat of the blackout. "This is clearly something that can be fixed, and it's clearly something that we can prepare for. And we will."

Grubman said Goodell has the "sole authority" to enforce any contingency plans and was in perfect position to do so Sunday.

"He was there, and he had the full reports," Grubman said. "We were quickly able to determine we did not have a situation that would cause a permanent interruption in the game. There were no safety issues; we had multiple equipment and sources of power."

And if they didn't? While declining to be specific, Grubman said the league has "backup plans" for continuing the game. Those plans all focus on playing the full 60 minutes, regardless of whether it is the same day or on another day.

So the Ravens, ahead 28-6 at the time of the partial blackout, wouldn't have simply been declared the winners. This isn't baseball, where a game is considered official after five innings.

In the end, Baltimore still won, beating the 49ers 34-31. The momentum shifted tremendously after the lights went back on, however, with the 49ers rallying to make it 31-29 at one point in the fourth quarter and missing a two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score.

Having to replay – or finish – the Super Bowl on another day clearly would have been a major headache for the NFL.

The Super Bowl invariably is the highest-rated television show of the year. Playing it any other time but Sunday evening would create trouble for the networks.

There also are travel and hotel considerations because the game is played at a neutral site.

Most importantly, there are health and safety concerns. Making teams play a Thursday night game after one on Sunday has been heavily criticized by the players' union. A quick turnaround, such as finishing the Super Bowl on Monday, could be dangerous.

Plus, there are competitive balance decisions to weigh. What might be fair to one team could be a hindrance for another.

Several major sports, including the NFL, have dealt with emergencies that forced schedule changes.

Just last year, the Daytona 500 was moved from Sunday afternoon to Monday night because of rain. But NASCAR often is forced to move races because of weather.

Same with golf tournaments, and if the United States Golf Association's major events are not won on Sunday, they end Monday with an 18-hole playoff.

Baseball, of course, is vulnerable to rainouts. Also, the Loma Prieta earthquake delayed the 1989 Giants-A's World Series for 10 days.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Barry Wilner



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