NEW ORLEANS — Authorities have ruled out terrorism and dismissed reports of a fire as a cause for the power outage at the Superdome that delayed Super Bowl XLVII for 34 minutes Sunday.
FBI Special Agent Michael Anderson said terrorism was not the cause of the outage.
New Orleans Fire Department spokesman Michael Williams said no fire was reported before, during or after the power outage at the Superdome.
The Super Bowl was halted for 34 minutes, plunging parts of the Superdome into darkness and leaving TV viewers of the biggest game of the year with no football and no explanation.
The Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers, 28-6, when most of the lights in the 73,000-seat building went out with 13:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Auxiliary power kept the playing field from going totally dark, but escalators stopped working and the concourses were illuminated only by small banks of lights tied in to emergency service.
Philip Allison, a spokesman for Entergy New Orleans, which provides power to the stadium, said power had been flowing into the stadium before the lights failed.
“All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected,” Allison said.
Allison said the outage appeared to originate in a failure of equipment maintained by Superdome staff. It occurred shortly after Beyoncé put on a 12-minute halftime show that featured extravagant lighting and video effects.
On the CBS broadcast, play-by-play announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms went silent as the power went out in the press box.
CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker announced the problem of a “click of the lights” to viewers. Later, the halftime crew anchored by host James Brown returned to fill the time with football analysis.
“We lost all power up here at the press box level,” Nantz said after power was restored.
Nantz and Simms were off the air for most of the 34-minute outage.
During the outage, the public address announcer said the Superdome was experiencing an interruption of electrical service and encouraged fans to stay in their seats. Some fans did the wave to pass the time. Players milled around on the sidelines, some took a seat on the bench, other on the field. A few of the Ravens threw footballs around.
Officials gathered on the field and appeared to be talking to stadium personnel.
Finally, the lights came on throughout the dome and the game resumed.
The NFL said stadium officials were investigating the cause, but there was no immediate word of why the power went out.
Once the game resumed, CBS said all commercial commitments for the broadcast were being honored.
The network sold out its allotment of advertising at $3.8 million per 30-second spot.
“We lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome,” said Jennifer Sabatelle, vice president of communications for CBS Sports. “We utilized CBS’ backup power and at no time did we leave the air.”
The outage provided a major glitch to what has largely been viewed as a smooth week for New Orleans, which was hosting its first Super Bowl since 2002 and was eager to show off how the city has rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the power outage “an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans.”