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Sunday, November 14, 2010
Updated: November 15, 11:59 AM ET
Power outage causes delay

By Jane McManus
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants fullback Bear Pascoe was in the huddle on the field of the new Meadowlands Stadium in the third quarter against the Cowboys, when all of a sudden the lights went out.

"I just wondered how they were going to get them back on," said Pascoe.

The stadium was plunged into dark, the only visible light coming from the dots of cell phone screens. Everyone on the field froze and waited, Pascoe said. Six seconds later the lights were back on, along with questions about how something like a power outage could happen in the middle of a game in a brand new $1.6 billion stadium.

"It's frustrating whether its a new building or an old building," Giants co-owner John Mara said. "You certainly don't want to see anything happen like that during the game."

The CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium, Mark Lamping, said that the problem was in a disruption to one of two feeder sources to the stadium. That caused a momentary outage at 6 p.m., at the start of the third quarter. Then when the power switched from the first to the second source of power, the longer six-second blackout occurred with 10:57 left in the third quarter. It took roughly six minutes to start play again, and there was another two minute pause while waiting for the television broadcast to resume.

"The appropriate diagnostics will be done," Lamping said. "We'll determine exactly what happened in conjunction with our friends from the [New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority] and [Public Service Electric and Gas Company] and if there are any adjustments that need to be made anywhere along the line we'll make those so that we can minimize risk of this ever happening again."

Two Cowboys employees were stuck in one of the elevators as those went offline, along with the escalators. Lamping said there was no smoke or fire in the building.

Players seemed to take the blackout in stride. Offensive linesman Kareem McKenzie quipped that someone needed to pay the bill. Linebacker Clint Sintim said he was on the bench and stopped in the middle of a sentence until some lights came back up.

"I can't imagine if I was in the game or it was in the middle of a play," Sintim said. "Fortunately enough it wasn't like that."

When the power shifted from the first line to the second line, Lamping said it was normal for there to be a gap in power, but the stadium made the switch while the game was ongoing. Even then, glitches such as echos in the sound system contributed to an eerie atmosphere during the night game that saw Dallas win 33-20.

Off the field, most fans remained calm while waiting for the game to resume. There was one fight between a Giants and Cowboys fan that happened right in front of Larry Gonzales, a 59-year-old sales manager from Pennsylvania.

"I didn't expect to see that," Gonzales said.

The two men were escorted out of the stadium. Lamping praised the security and event staff who responded to an unusual situation with a good deal of calm.

"We were very satisfied with our staff in and around the building," Lamping said.

Fan reaction to the blackout was mixed, but several said that they and the people around them remained calm. There were roughly 82,000 people in the building according to Lamping.

"Nobody panicked, everyone stood still and we knew the generators would kick on," said Kelly Kilbride from Rumson, N.J.

"It was relatively calm, nobody really freaked out or anything like that," said Ken Almstead, 40, of Waccabuc, NY.

At $1.6 billion, the new stadium is one of the most expensive built in the modern era. Several fans expressed frustration as they walked down steps from the upper deck, their team losing and their stadium looking less than pristine.

"What a dump," said one fan as he walked down because the elevators and escalators were out of service.

"When you spend a billion dollars on a stadium you don't expect all the lights to go out," said Jeff Phelps, a 30-year-old investment banker.

A man from Morris County in New Jersey who declined to give his name said he was giving up his season tickets after this season, because nothing at the New Meadowlands had been as advertised. He said lines for food and the restrooms were longer here than at Giants Stadium.

"Everything has not been what they said," he said.

Larry Ahearn, a 47-year-old engineer in section 203, thought it was unusual that play was allowed to continue after the first disruption in power.

"When that kind of stuff happens you're just waiting for the next stuff to go, I'm surprised the game [was] still on," Ahearn said. "When you use that kind of control you understand that your control systems aren't working very well and you're waiting for the control system to fail again."

Lamping adressed reporters after the game, with PSE&G president Ralph LaRossa. Lamping said the two would be looking into finding out exactly what happened before the Jets host the Texans next weekend.

"We'll find out what it was and remedy it before Sunday," Lamping said.

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Matt Ehalt contributed to this story.The Associated Press was used in this report.