Power outages delay Steelers-Niners

BY Alex Marvez • December 19, 2011

Power outages at Candlestick Park have wreaked havoc with Monday night’s game between Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The stadium lights turned off twice, leading to delays that totaled more than 35 minutes.

The game’s kickoff was delayed by 20 minutes when the first power outage hit. The stadium was thrown into darkness roughly 20 minutes before the scheduled 8:40 p.m. ET kickoff, which was delayed until 9 p.m. ET.

The second outage, which came at 12:13 of the second quarter with San Francisco holding a 6-0 lead, led to a 16-minute delay.

NFL security chief Jeff Miller said he witnessed a transformer blow up while he was monitoring a gate outside the stadium, where a shooting during the preseason already put a negative light on this venue.

Thousands of flashbulbs went off in the midst of the blackness, with a sellout crowd of 69,732 sitting in darkness — including all those Terrible Towel-waving Steelers fans who travel the country with their team.

Miller and other NFL officials gathered in the press box to assess the situation, remaining in constant contact with the commissioner's office.

Miller said he remained confident the game could be finished even using an alternative power source because the problem appeared to be outside the stadium.

''They told us that we were on the second feed, so if that feed would have been somehow interrupted, then we probably wouldn't have been able to get the lights back,'' Miller told The Associated Press.

The public address system stopped working along with everything else, so team officials encouraged media to use Twitter to reach fans and encourage them to sit tight and not panic. An emergency light quickly came on in a far corner of the stadium.

''What happened was the lights in the lots went out,'' Miller said. ''And about two minutes later, the transformer blew and then we lost everything, other than the emergency lights inside.''

A 49ers spokesman said city engineers worked swiftly to switch the power to backup generators.

Joe Molica, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said the power company was still investigating the cause of the outage.

''So far I don't know what the cause is,'' Molica said. ''We do know that Candlestick was the only customer affected by this outage.''

Molica said PG&E and park authorities had made all the routine checks earlier in the day and that all systems appeared to be in order. He said it was back up on full power and multiple crews went to Candlestick to investigate.

Monday marked San Francisco's biggest home game since their last trip to the playoffs in January 2003, when the Niners came from behind to stun the New York Giants 39-38 in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

This was the 49ers' only Monday night game this season and their final regular-season home game at Candlestick Park. The NFL certainly will want to make sure there are no problems when San Francisco hosts a home playoff game next month as NFC West champions.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said city workers worked with PG&E officials to restore power to the stadium and he has called for an investigation ''to prevent incidents such as this from happening again.''

He also took the time to crow a bit over the 49ers' win.

''Tonight we all share in tremendous pride for our San Francisco 49ers,'' he said. ''We must make every effort to support continued victories for the team and fans across the Bay Area in the weeks ahead.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 



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