Documents reveal concerns about Superdome power
NEW ORLEANS — Concerned the Superdome might not be able to handle the energy needed for its first Super Bowl since Hurricane Katrina, officials spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on upgrades to decayed utility lines, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
The improvements apparently weren't enough, however, to prevent an embarrassing and puzzling 34-minute power outage during the third quarter of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Two days later, officials still had not pinpointed the cause of the outage. The Superdome's management company, SMG, and the utility that supplies the stadium, Entergy New Orleans, announced Tuesday that they would hire outside experts to investigate.
“We wanted to leave no stone unturned,” Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde told the AP. He said the two companies had not been able to reach a conclusion on the cause and wanted a third-party analysis.
“We thought it was important to get another party looking at this to make sure we were looking at everything that we need to examine,” Lagarde said.
SMG vice president Doug Thornton told a news conference at City Hall later Tuesday that the hiring of a third party does not signify a disagreement between SMG and Entergy.
“It's important for us to have total transparency, and we have agreed among ourselves that we will exchange records,” Thornton said. “We were metering the power. They were doing the same on their side. We need to figure out what the root cause of this is and fix it.”
Documents obtained Monday through a records request by The Associated Press show that Superdome officials worried months ago about losing power during the NFL championship.
Tests on the electrical feeders that connect incoming power from utility lines to the stadium showed decay and “a chance of failure,” state officials warned in a memo dated Oct. 15. The documents, obtained by the AP through a records request, also show that Entergy expressed concern about the reliability of the service before the Super Bowl.
The memo said Entergy and the Superdome's engineering staff “had concerns regarding the reliability of the Dome service from Entergy's connection point to the Dome.”
The memo was prepared for the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District, the state body responsible for the Superdome.
Authorities subsequently authorized spending nearly $1 million on Superdome improvements, including more than $600,000 for upgrading the dome's electrical feeder cable system, work that was done in December.
“As discussed in previous board meetings, this enhancement is necessary to maintain both the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena as top tier facilities, and to ensure that we do not experience any electrical issues during the Super Bowl,” said an LSED document dated Dec. 19.
Superdome commission records show a $513,250 contract to replace feeder cables was awarded to Allstar Electric, a company based in suburban New Orleans.
Arthur Westbrook, Allstar's project manager for the job, referred all questions about possible causes of the outage to the management company.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Ravens RB Rice calls actions ‘totally inexcusable’
- Confident rookie quarterback Manziel erratic early with Browns
- NFL notebook: Ex-Steeler Sanders picks Manning over Big Ben
- NFL notebook: Browns receiver Josh Gordon hires lawyer to help with hearing
- NFL notebook: Cardinals CB Peterson lands new $70M deal