Superdome commission eyes change to power system

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The panel that runs Louisiana’s Superdome approved spending up to $100,000 on Wednesday for an engineering study to be done with an eye toward changing the stadium’s emergency power systems.

Dome manager Doug Thornton says that idea has been in the works since well before the Super Bowl — when a partial power outage led to the suspension of the NFL game for more than half an hour.

Thornton’s comments came during a meeting of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District board.

Thornton noted that the current system is designed to keep electrical systems operating during an emergency evacuation — not during a temporary outage when crowds remain in the building.

That was evident during the Super Bowl outage, when the game was suspended for 34 minutes in the third quarter while scoreboards and other equipment were powered back up following the outage.

Entergy Corp. has said it believes the outage was caused by an electrical relay device it installed specially to prevent a power failure at the dome. But it’s unclear whether the device had a design flaw or a manufacturing defect.

Entergy and the management company that runs the dome for the state, SMG, recently hired Utah-based forensic engineer John Palmer to perform an independent analysis of the outage.