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.
The lights-out championship game proved an embarrassment for New Orleans 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 were forgiving, and officials expressed confidence that the episode wouldn't hurt the city's hopes of hosting the championship again.
To New Orleans' relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a "terrific" job hosting its first pro-football championship in the post-Katrina era.
"I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls," he said, noting a backup power system was poised to kick in but wasn't needed once the lights came back.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu told a news conference Tuesday that the outage won't hurt the city's chances of hosting another Super Bowl and he joked that the game got better after the blackout.