San Francisco Mayor Lee Calls Candlestick Outage ‘National Embarrassment’

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called the power outages that left fans and players in the dark at Monday night’s San Francisco 49ers game at Candlestick Park a “national embarrassment.”

The first outage began shortly before 5:30 p.m., when the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was scheduled to begin. Service was restored about 20 minutes later and the game got under way, but the lights went out again at about 6:45 p.m., during the second quarter.

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The outage blackened the field and stands at Candlestick Park but no nearby homes were affected.

KCBS’ Susan Kennedy Reports:

Officials from the 49ers initially said Monday that the first outage was caused by a blown transformer, and an aerial video appears to show a flash near the stadium at the same time the lights went out. However, Joe Molica with PG&E said that they’ve determined that the cause of that outage was a power line coming down on Egbert Avenue, a couple of blocks away from the stadium.

“The arc we saw last night was the wire separating from itself, not a transformer,” said Molica.

As for the second outage, which came in the second quarter of the game, earlier a PG&E spokesman blamed a city-owned auto transfer switch, but Molica only said that they are still working with the city to determine the cause.

“What we did was a detailed investigation so far that does not show any disturbance on either of the electrical circuits that feed Candlestick,” said Molica. “However, we’re working closely with them to determine what did happen on that second outage.”

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Ed Harrington said “the second feed kicked in” but that his agency is looking into “how fast that happened, and did we respond to that appropriately.”

Harrington said, “Nothing that we know indicates that the power failure was caused by city equipment … the power feed was clearly a problem of when their line broke.”

He said the age of Candlestick Park—which opened in 1960 — could have been a factor in the time it took to restore the lights.

“An older facility has a harder time getting back up,” he said.

The 49ers, who are guaranteed to host at least one playoff game as the NFC West champions, said they want to wait until the investigation is complete before commenting.

Police are also investigating a bomb threat to the stadium phoned in prior to the game, which the 49ers won 20-3.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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