Super Bowl Power Outage – A Super Nightmare for Facility Pros

by Carole Lucido on February 5, 2013

Facility management took center stage Sunday February 3, 2013 when early in the second half of the Super Bowl in the newly branded Mercedes Benz Superdome, half of the lights went out.  For members of the Association for Facilities Engineering, the sick feeling hits close to home.

The spotlight is falling on Doug Thornton, who manages the Superdome for SMG. He has been quoted to say that millions of dollars in electrical system upgrades have been performed — including $1.2 million in December to have 12 new electrical feeder cables from the substation installed.

Following is an excerpt from an NFL provided transcript published here:

Doug Thornton on where he was and his reaction when the power went out:

“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 pre-programmed 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.”

For the next few days and weeks the whole world will be second guessing the cause of the outage. What are your thoughts?

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