Super Sunday and Groundhog Day will happen instantaneously in about a week, and it's only right that the first cold-weather Super Bowl played outdoors should fall on a day traditionally associated with the exigencies of winter. But what about a power outage?
The question is whether the weather worthy winter might also arrive simultaneously and cause a power outage. The NFL, a leviathan that dominates American culture and cuisine each Super Sunday, has a blizzard of contingency plans in place should a power outage or Mother Nature offer storms on or around Feb. 2 — even plans under which the game could be played on another day.
Officials from the National Football League, the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, and PSE&G plan to meet today to discuss power outages and energy-related matters connected to the Super Bowl 2014, including technology upgrades and the reviews by independent consultants. But those who have been working on the issue for the past year believe they have enough backups in place to ensure there is no power outage during the biggest game of the year.
That possibility is a long shot, but sub-freezing conditions and a power outage is not. The average daily low temperature for that date here is 24 degrees Fahrenheit, according to AccuWeather.com. Fans will get "Warm Welcome" packs that include ear muffs, hand warmers and lip balm. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell plans to sit outside, the NFL says.
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The Super Bowl will draw a lot of electricity so the possibility of a power outage is very real. Not only will MetLife Stadium be lit up that evening, but the racetrack will be hosting 10,000 people for an NFL tailgate party and the arena will be used as well. According to PSE&G officials, the complex will pull 18 megawatts of power — enough to supply 12,000 homes. The utility will be feeding in 12 megawatts, with the remaining 6 megawatts to be supplied by generators.
Last month, a dry run simulating the electrical load estimated for game day was conducted over two days to test for a power outage.
“We lit the entire stadium up,” said Bill Labos, director of asset reliability for PSE&G, who serves as the utility’s point person for the NFL, the sports authority and the host committee.
“We lit up the arena. We lit up the racetrack. We put normal load as much as we could.”
The NFL rented devices called “load banks,” which are basically large resistors that absorb power and produce a lot of heat, to simulate load on the network.
“Once we had the load where we expected to see it, we started to just run operational checks on all the equipment to make sure it was handling it and it wasn’t stressed,” Labos said.
MetLife Stadium has had a game-delaying power outage before, in 2010, during its first season of operation when it was known as New Meadowlands Stadium. The lights went out twice during an 11-minute period in the third quarter of the Nov. 14 game between the Giants and Dallas Cowboys, creating confusion on the field and interrupted television coverage of the game.
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While PSE&G supplies the electricity, the sports authority has its own substation which is used to feed all the major venues at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, including the racetrack and the Izod Center arena.
While the entire complex in East Rutherford will not go into a security "lockdown" until Monday, Jan. 27, the stadium, the Izod Center, and the old and new Meadowlands Racetrack grandstands are all playing a major role in making sure there isn’t a power outage at the 2014 Super Bowl, and all are shutting down well in advance, in preparation for the game and to make way for more than 10,000 workers.