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February 5, 2013

Documents: Worries about outage before Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS — Superdome officials warned just months before the Super Bowl that the venue's electrical system could suffer a power outage and rushed to replace some of the equipment ahead of the big game

While the cause of Sunday's 34-minute outage is still under investigation, records released Monday show that Superdome officials were worried in October about losing power during the NFL championship.

Tests on the electrical feeders that connect incoming power from utility lines to the stadium showed decay and "a chance of failure," state officials warned in a memo dated Oct. 15. The documents, obtained through a records request by The Associated Press, also show the utility that supplies the stadium expressed concern about the reliability of the service before the Super Bowl.

The memo said utility Entergy New Orleans and the Superdome's engineering staff "had concerns regarding the reliability of the Dome service from Entergy's connection point to the Dome."

The memo was prepared for the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District, the state body responsible for the Superdome.

Authorities then authorized spending nearly $1 million on Superdome improvements, including more than $600,000 for upgrading the dome's electrical feeder cable system, work that was done in December.

"As discussed in previous board meetings, this enhancement is necessary to maintain both the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena as top tier facilities, and to ensure that we do not experience any electrical issues during the Super Bowl," said an LSED document dated Dec. 19.

Superdome commission records show a $513,250 contract to replace feeder cables was awarded to Allstar Electric, a company based in suburban New Orleans.

A lawyer for the LSED, Larry Roedel, said Monday a preliminary investigation found the replacement work done in December did not appear to have caused Sunday's outage.

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