NEW ORLEANS: The Super Bowl was delayed because of a power outage Sunday, plunging parts of the Superdome into darkness and leading to a 34-minute delay in the biggest game of the year.
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 left in the third quarter.
Auxiliary power kept the playing field from going totally dark, but escalators stopped working and the concourses were only illuminated 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.
The outage appeared to originate in a failure of equipment maintained by stadium staff, he added.
The power failure occurred shortly after Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown, giving the Ravens a commanding lead.
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 back on throughout the stadium and the game resumed.
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.
Monique Richard, who is from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, had tickets in the upper deck.
“My exact words on the way over here were, ‘I hope this goes off without a hitch,’ because the city just looked so good, they were doing so well, the weather so good everything was kind of falling into place,” she said.
“We haven’t had the Super Bowl in 11 years. It might be 20 more. Hopefully, everybody will be understanding.”
Brass bands marching among spectators and a live alligator and trainer were among the sights on the grounds immediately surrounding the Superdome on Super Bowl Sunday.
New Orleans has long been a popular Super Bowl host, but with Sunday’s NFL title game being the first in the city in 11 years — and the first since Hurricane Katrina — officials took numerous measures to showcase the local culture in hopes that fans, and the league, would want to come back.
“The NFL and the host committee went to great lengths to give the Super Bowl a Louisiana and New Orleans flair,” said Jay Cicero, president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
Tickets to the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were scanned at security tents set up around the stadium. It allowed much of a secure 52-acre area immediately around the Superdome to be set up like an outdoor festival — with fans wandering in and out of the stadium and enjoying temperatures in the high 60s.
Ravens and 49ers fans danced in front of a stage set up in an expansive public plaza next to the stadium while the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band played. Next on stage was the New Orleans Super Bowl Gospel Choir, comprised of small choirs from area churches.
“It’s beautiful that we can represent more than one genre of music, so you get brass bands, you get jazz, all of these different things. So it just really gives the culture of New Orleans,” choir leader George Young said.
The fans in the plaza included Niners fans Rick and Cheryl Brandon from Mill Valley, Calif., and their son, Eric. They wore red and gold Mardi Gras beads. Rick Brandon wore a red cape and carried a small red and gold horn called a pocket trumpet, which he noted was “small enough to get through security and big enough to make a difference.”
“There couldn’t be a more perfect city for the Super Bowl,” Eric Brandon said. “It’s the combination of the music and the spirit, the fun, the meals, the weather and everything.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it was only fitting that a Super Bowl in New Orleans, which has doubled as a celebration of how far southeast Louisiana has come since Hurricane Katrina, would be followed by one in the New York metro area, where communities are working to rebound from Superstorm Sandy.
The mayor spoke at a “handoff ceremony” involving officials connected to the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowls.
Joining Landrieu were New Orleans Super Bowl host committee chair people James Carville and Mary Matalin, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Saints executive Rita Benson Leblanc, granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson.
Standing in Mardi Gras parade grandstands set up along St. Charles Ave. at historic Gallier Hall, the old city hall, Super Bowl officials handed off to New York Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson, who chair the New York/New Jersey host committee. Joining them was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and host committee president Al Kelly.
“One of the things that we did well here is use this game as an opportunity to rebuild the city, to really think about how we’re going to build New Orleans back better than she ever was, and I think that we succeeded in wonderful ways,” Landrieu said. “I’m sure that they are going to do an incredible job” in New York.
AP writers Brian Schwaner, Brett Martel and Janie McCauley contributed to this report.