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Volume 21 No. 1
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No shock: NFL to do power study for Super Bowl

The NFL next year, for the first time, will stage a simulation of the electrical power demand of an upcoming Super Bowl, said Frank Supovitz, the league’s senior vice president of events.

After this year’s blackout, the NFL will simulate demand at venues it will use in New Jersey.
The Super Bowl in New Orleans this past February suffered a 34-minute blackout tracked to a faulty relay switch outside the stadium. The switch either malfunctioned or was improperly calibrated, Supovitz said. A third-party electrical forensic examination to determine the cause continues.

But it’s not just the blackout that’s leading the NFL to go beyond what the league has done previously in planning for power demand. It’s also the numerous venues the NFL will use at the Meadowlands Sports Complex next year that’s playing a role. For next year, Izod Center will host parties on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2; Meadowlands Racetrack will host the NFL’s own tailgate party; the New York Giants’ Timex Center training facility will host receptions; and, of course, MetLife Stadium will host the game.

Even the mighty NFL
can laugh at itself

Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his opening remarks to owners last week on a stage designed to look like a stadium. In the middle of those remarks, the lights went out.

It was all planned, but not everyone was in on the joke. Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, who recently was profiled on “60 Minutes Sports” where he was seen asking questions in the middle of the Super Bowl blackout, said he was stunned when the lights went off — but then he heard people laughing, including the commissioner, and realized it was a gag.

The lights soon came back on … unlike in New Orleans, where they stayed off for 34 minutes.

— Daniel Kaplan

“We want to understand how the power shifts between venues,” Supovitz said. “We have to figure out how much power we will use, where it goes, and when.”

The NFL is working with the local utility, Public Service Electric and Gas Co., and with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which in part oversees the sports complex, to manage the simulation. Supovitz did not specify when the simulation would occur except that it needed to be close to the event.

PSE&G will deploy large trucks carrying massive resistors, electrical equipment that will eat the power, Supovitz said. The idea is to generate an amount of electricity that would approximate what would be used on game day without actually turning the lights on, but that power would then have to flow somewhere. The resistors are tied into the power lines and drain the power.

Mark McGranaghan, vice president of power delivery for the nonprofit group Electric Power Research Institute, said simulations are common for large events but often are only computer-modeled. The fact the NFL will deploy giant resistors suggests the league may be taking it further, to an actual test.

Also for the first time, the NFL plans to budget electrical levels next year. Not budget in a financial sense, but the league wants to know precisely how much power is required for its premier event.

“We are going to account for every amp for the first time,” Supovitz said.