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80 Days: Super blackout redux? Not likely

11/14/2013

Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 80 days to the Super Bowl.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Public Service Electric & Gas Co. President Ralph LaRossa won't make any guarantees, but he's confident the lights will stay on for Super Bowl XLVIII next Feb. 2.

"We've taken every precaution and every lesson learned we could from prior Super Bowls, from what happened, conversations we've had there, applied all those best practices and lessons learned to the operation here in New Jersey and as a result ... the power is going to be the least of the things to worry about," said LaRossa, whose company provides energy to MetLife Stadium. "Worry about the Giants and the Jets winning."

On Thursday at MetLife Stadium, LaRossa joined NFL Senior VP of Events Frank Supovitz and NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee President Al Kelly to discuss the infrastructure for the big game. Energy is a main topic, as the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans was delayed for more than 34 minutes because of a power outage. The cause of that blackout was a piece of equipment measuring the electrical load that accidentally cut the power to the stadium.

MetLife Stadium has had its own problems with energy -- during its first season in 2010, power went out briefly during a Giants-Cowboys game.

Supovitz said the infrastructure group's efforts can be broken down into seven categories: equipment maintenance; installation of new equipment; replacement and upgrades to current equipment; testing the equipment; continuing focus on technical consultants; redundancy; and security.

To help ensure the event runs smoothly, a third power source is being added to the two the complex currently uses. A mobile substation is also being brought in for standby, and the NFL will provide generators to supplement what is already available. The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority also upgraded the existing substation.

The Super Bowl will use about 18 megawatts, about 30-40 percent higher than it would for a New York Jets or New York Giants home game, and a load test was performed in September to see how MetLife Stadium handles that capacity. LaRossa said there were some minor incidents, including a trip coil on a breaker that needed to be replaced, but overall the test went well.

As they prepare for the Super Bowl, the parties benefited from MetLife Stadium hosting WrestleMania 29 in April. Wrestling's biggest event used roughly the same load that is expected for the Super Bowl.

"WrestleMania was a really good test for us," LaRossa said. "Not a lot of people look at it that way but if you look at the load that came in for WrestleMania, it really gave us the ability to test real-life situations."

With the game taking place in New Jersey in February, weather conditions are obviously going to be a concern. LaRossa believes they're up to the task.

"We handle it every other day," LaRossa said. "We'll handle it."

Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.