NEW ORLEANS – Super Bowl XLVII suffered an extraordinary and embarrassing delay on Sunday evening when a power surge caused most of the lights at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to go out with 13:22 left in the third quarter. The power outage delayed the game for 34 minutes.
The Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 when the scoreboard ceased operations at 7:37 p.m. CT and all except a bank of ceiling lights stopped working. The emergency lights that came on were the same ones that were used during Hurricane Katrina when the Superdome became an impromptu shelter for thousands seeking refuge.
NFL officials said that the issue was with an outside power feed that was beyond the stadium's control. Health and safety rules dictated that a number of checks and protocols had to be completed before the lighting could be brought back. Head referee Jerome Boger and his crew explained to coaches Jim and John Harbaugh that each team would be given a warm-up period in order to get themselves ready to play once again. Both teams declined, opting to re-start the game once the lights came back on.
"Stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage," the NFL said in a statement. "We will have more information as soon as it becomes available."
The shutdown took place with the 49ers attempting to drive down the field, and the malfunction left players, officials and fans stunned. The refereeing crew ordered the players to the sidelines while trying to access information from stadium officials.
Both squads stretched and tried to stay loose on the sidelines while maintenance crews worked on the situation.
For around 10 minutes confusion reigned, before an announcement over the stadium speaker system instructed spectators to remain in their seats as service would be resumed "momentarily."
Minutes before the interruption, singer Beyonce Knowles had performed in a lavish halftime show that featured huge banks of lighting and electronic effects.
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The delay did not dampen the spirits of the Ravens players or their support, still buoyant after a spectacular start to the second half, when Jacoby Jones ran the kickoff back 108 yards, the longest kick return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.
The power outage was the biggest Super Bowl mishap since 2011 in Dallas, when 850 angry fans were denied entry to the stadium due to fire marshals ruling some seating sections unusable.
As the delay stretched on, quarterback Colin Kaepernick cut a lonely figure on the 49ers sideline, isolated from his teammates for several minutes, before eventually warming up and then huddling with back-up quarterback Alex Smith.
The scoreboard resumed operation at exactly at 8 p.m. CT. The game resumed 11 minutes later.
In 2006, when U2 and Green Day played the pre-game concert at the re-opening of the Superdome following Katrina, the stadium's general manager Doug Thornton was concerned about how long the lights would come back back on then.
This is not the first time the NFL has experience a power outage during a game. The lights went out at Candlestick Park during a Monday night game between the 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers game in 2011. That delay lasted 35 minutes.
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