x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Darkness descends on 49ers' win over the Steelers in NFL

Ed Lee, the San Francisco mayor, said efforts must be made to make sure the two powercuts that blighted the San Francisco's 20-3 win over Pittsburgh do not happen again.

SAN FRANCISCO // Candlestick Park went dark twice in the San Francisco 49ers' much-anticipated return to prime time.

Two power outages delayed their 20-3 Monday night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, first just before kick off and again early in the second quarter after the stadium moved to a back-up power source.

Jeff Miller, the NFL security chief, said he witnessed a transformer blow up while he was monitoring a gate outside the stadium.

A shooting during the pre-season already had put a negative light on the ageing and wind-swept venue, which has long had a reputation for being cold and dreary.

The first outage delayed the game by 20 minutes. Thousands of flashbulbs went off in the midst of the blackness, with a sellout crowd of 69,732 sitting in darkness - including the Terrible Towel-waving Steelers fans who travel the country with their team.

The second delay halted the game for about 15 minutes. Miller and other NFL officials gathered in the press box to assess the situation, remaining in 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 said.

The game was San Francisco's biggest at home since their last trip to the play-offs, in January 2003, when the 49ers came from behind to stun the New York Giants 39-38 in one of the league's great comebacks.

It 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 play-offs game next month as NFC West champions. Miller said he believes Candlestick can host a play-off game.

When the power went out throughout the stadium at 5.40pm (5.40am UAE), the public-address system stopped working, along with everything else. Officials encouraged media to use Twitter to reach fans and encourage them to stay in their places 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."

Joe Molica, a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E). 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." He said multiple crews were invesitaging the outage.

Ed Lee, the San Francisco mayor, 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".

* Associated Press