Last Modified: Monday, February 04, 2013 5:06 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The blackout at the Superdome will not stop the Super Bowl from returning to New Orleans.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that despite the electrical outage which delayed Sunday night's game for 34 minutes, the city did a "terrific" job hosting its first pro football championship in the post-Katrina era.
"Let me reiterate again what an extraordinary job the city of New Orleans has done," said Goodell, speaking Monday at a post-Super Bowl media conference held for the game's MVP, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, and winning coach John Harbaugh. "The most important thing is to make sure people understand it was a fantastic week."
New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including Baltimore's 34-31 victory over San Francisco, tied for the most with Miami.
While serving as the site of America's biggest sporting event and focus of an unofficial national holiday gets any place a lot of attention, this game had special meaning for New Orleans.
The city last hosted the Super Bowl in 2002 and officials were hoping this would serve as the ultimate showcase — on, a global scale — of how far it has come since being devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm winds tore holes in the roof of the Superdome and there was water damage from the rain that affected electrical systems and caused mold to spread. More than $330 million has been spent to upgrade the facility, which has hosted the annual Sugar Bowl, Saints games, two BCS title games and a men's Final Four since the storm.
Yet the loss of power was an embarrassment that quickly became perhaps the signature moment of the Ravens' win.
Goodell said not to worry.
"I do not think this will have an effect on future Super Bowls in New Orleans," he said. "I fully expect to be back here for Super Bowls. I hope we will be back. We want to be back here."
Local officials have said they will bid to host an 11th Super Bowl in 2018 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the city's founding. Goodell made it sound like that is still in play.
"This will not affect the view of the NFL of the success of the game here in New Orleans," Goodell said. "We know that they have an interest in future Super Bowls and we look forward to evaluating that. Going forward, I do not think this will have an effect at all on what I think will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks."
Goodell said he had no concerns about the adequacy of the Superdome going forward because "this is clearly something that can be fixed and it's clearly something we can prepare for and we will."
For Goodell, it seemed, it was important to recognize how much fans and the league's business partners enjoyed dining at the city's renowned restaurants, attending parties in the home of Mardi Gras, and the ease of moving around with everything centrally located downtown.
It wasn't the first time Goodell has stuck up for the city.
He has been widely credited with working behind the scenes to get the Superdome renovated on a fast track after Katrina struck. It reopened in September 2006, in time for the Saints to return permanently to New Orleans after spending one season displaced to San Antonio.
Still, some Saints fans were critical of Goodell's handling of the league's bounty investigation of the team, and resulting sanctions that included the full season suspension of coach Sean Payton.
Sports fans bet a record $98.9 million at Nevada casinos on the Super Bowl.
The Gaming Control Board says unaudited tallies show 183 sports books made $7.2 million on the action. The San Francisco 49ers started out as a 5-point favorite but the Baltimore Ravens won 34-31.
Odds makers say California fans drove the unprecedented handle, flooding Las Vegas and northern Nevada with wagers on the hometown team. The 49ers hadn't been in a Super Bowl since 1995.
The previous Nevada record was set in 2006, when gamblers wagered $94.5 million.
Casinos say they lost big on proposition bets, including a long-shot on whether there would be a safety.
Who turned out the lights?
The day after the 34-minute blackout at the Super Bowl, the exact cause — and who's to blame — were unclear, though a couple of potential culprits had been ruled out.
It wasn't Beyonce's electrifying halftime performance, according to Doug Thornton, manager of the state-owned Superdome, since the singer had her own generator. And it apparently wasn't a case of too much demand for power. Meters showed the 76,000-seat stadium was drawing no more electricity than it does during a typical New Orleans Saints game, Thornton said.
The lights-out game Sunday proved an embarrassment for the Big Easy just when it was hoping to show the rest of the world how far it has come since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But many fans and residents were forgiving, and officials expressed confidence that the episode wouldn't hurt the city's hopes of hosting the championship again.
The problem that caused the outage was believed to have happened around the spot where a line that feeds current from the local power company, Entergy New Orleans, connects with the Superdome's electrical system, officials said. But whether the fault lay with the utility or with the Superdome was not clear.
Determining the cause will probably take days, according to Dennis Dawsey, a vice president for distribution and transmission for Entergy. He said the makers of some of the switching gear have been brought in to help figure out what happened.
Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University's Center for Hospitality and Sports Management, said the episode shouldn't hurt the city's reputation as a big convention destination. "I think people view it for what it was: an unusual event with a near-record power draw," he said. "It was the equivalent of a circuit breaker flipping."
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons will meet in New Orleans from April 27 to May 1. Patty Anderson, director of meetings for the group, said of the blackout: "I never even gave it a second thought. To me, the city is bigger, stronger and more vibrant than it's ever been."
NFL officials were sure they'd get the Super Bowl finished on Sunday night.
And if they couldn't, the league championship still would not have ended where it temporarily stopped, with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter. The Lombardi Trophy goes to the winner after 60 minutes, not 32.
Goodell said Monday the Superdome had a backup power system which was about to be used during the Super Bowl's electrical outage. It wasn't needed because power started coming back at that time, he said.
Superdome and utility officials were still trying to nail down the precise cause of the 34-minute Super Bowl, but league officials said that, because of the backup system, the game wasn't in danger of being postponed.
"That was not a consideration last night," NFL vice president of business operations Eric Grubman said at a news conference Monday. "That is not what was at play."
Grubman said Goodell has the "sole authority" to enforce any contingency plans, and was in perfect position to do so Sunday night.
"He was there and he had the full reports," Grubman said. "We were quickly able to determine we did not have a situation that would cause a permanent interruption in the game. There were no safety issues, we had multiple equipment and sources of power."
And if they didn't?
While declining to be specific, Grubman said the league has "backup plans" for continuing the game. Those plans all focus on playing the full 60 minutes, regardless of whether it is the same day or on another day.
So the Ravens, ahead 28-6 at the time of the partial blackout, wouldn't have simply been declared the winners. This isn't baseball, where half a game is considered official.
In the end, Baltimore still won, beating San Francisco 34-31. The momentum shifted tremendously after the lights went back on, however, with the 49ers rallying to make it 31-29 at one point in the fourth quarter, and missing a 2-point conversion pass that would have tied it.
With a partial power outage, an overly excited quarterback and a game that suddenly turned from snoozer to sizzler, CBS had its hands full at the Super Bowl. The game fell short of setting a viewership record, but it stands as the third most-watched program in U.S. television history.
The Nielsen Co. said an estimated 108.4 million people watched the Ravens' 34-31 victory. The most-watched events in U.S. TV history were last year's game, seen by 111.3 million, and the 2010 game, with 111 million viewers.
CBS had hoped to make it the fourth year in a row that football's ultimate game broke the record for most-watched event in American television history. But pro football ratings in general have been down slightly this year.
When the Ravens' Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown and gave his team a 28-6 lead, CBS' dream of a ratings record surely became even more distant. And then half the lights went out. CBS' ratings immediately dipped by two full ratings points in the overnight measurement of big cities.
When the lights returned, so did the 49ers. They quickly jumped back in the game and CBS' audience, no doubt fueled by social media chatter, came back, too. CBS was blessed with the dream of every network that telecasts the Super Bowl: a game that isn't decided until the final play.
The power outage was an immediate hot topic for quips and questions online. There were an estimated 47.7 million social media posts during the game, according to the company Trendrr TV, which tracks activity on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. That compares with 17 million during last year's game and 3 million in 2010, Trendrr said.
Baltimore had the highest rating of any individual city, Nielsen said. San Francisco was not among the top 10 cities in ratings.