CNN.com broke the news this morning that Entergy New Orleans Inc. had traced the cause of Sunday's Super Bowl power outage to an electrical relay device and that a replacement for the faulty equipment is being evaluated.
It is not evident how much such a replacement will cost, but at least one engineer is amazed that the NFL hadn't invested in a backup system prior to its biggest game of the year. James Hamilton, who's responsible for keeping Amazon's data centers up and running, told wired.com that for $10 million, the league could have purchased a pair of bus-sized diesel generators and hooked them up to an uninterruptable power supply system. Wired then contacted a Louisiana-based heavy equipment rental company and found that a week's rental on a suitable backup package could be had for a mere $2.5 million.
It is also unclear - once sensors detected an electrical abnormality and tripped a Superdome circuit breaker, dousing roughly half of the stadium's lights - whether a switch to backup would have circumvented any blackout. The Superdome's gas-charged lights take 15 minutes to restart all by themselves. Sunday's game was delayed 34 minutes during the third quarter.
What seems obvious to Hamilton, at least, is that for a relatively small investment (in light of the NFL's $9.5 billion in annual revenue), the league, the city and the stadium could have easily ducked such a glaring black eye. "I would expect that next year's event will have backup power," he told wired.com earlier this week. "The economics of it are just too obvious."