Super Bowl venue won't be affected by planned power outages

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A frigid Super Bowl week in the Metroplex is turning a little dark, although not at the site of the big game.

One of the state's largest utility providers said rolling statewide electrical outages that started Wednesday in response to high demand from a rare ice storm will not affect Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington. But Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said other Super Bowl facilities, such as team hotels, weren't exempt.

Oncor, which serves 7 million customers in Texas, said the planned outages would happen in 15-minute intervals. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said some hotels have experienced "brief but expected" blackouts without any problems. A hotel spokesman said both team hotels are equipped with backup generators that would make any outage brief.

The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers moved practices indoors Wednesday. Green Bay was scheduled to practice outdoors at Southern Methodist University but instead is shifting to a Dallas-area high school that has an enclosed facility. Pittsburgh will practice inside at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and other NFL officials spent Tuesday defending the region from questions of whether or not the area would receive another shot at a Super Bowl after temperatures plunged into the teens with subzero wind-chill readings and a blanket of ice that closed schools, snarled traffic and canceled a handful of game-related activities.

"This is football country. It runs deep. It runs through men and women," Jones said. "It's a big deal. That's the way it is here -- period. All that should help us if we have ambitions of hosting future Super Bowls."

The obvious question arose Tuesday after a winter storm brought ice, temperatures in the teens and subzero wind-chill readings outside Super Bowl media day at $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington.

The event went on as planned -- the retractable roof was closed -- despite a few complaints from the Steelers and Packers.

"Man, it's freezing in here!" Steelers safety Ryan Clark, a Louisiana native, said several times between questions.

The Super Bowl next year is slated for Indianapolis and the year after in New Orleans. In 2014, it will be at the open-air New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, again raising the possibility of more chilly stories in the week before the game.

Atlanta has twice been turned down in Super Bowl balloting since a rare ice storm struck the city just before the 2000 game. But Jones and Dallas bid leader Bill Lively shrugged off the notion that the icy weather would affect future Super Bowl bids for the Cowboys' 100,000-seat stadium.

NFL vice president of events Frank Supovitz said he didn't believe the storm was fodder for those who contend Super Bowls should be played in warm weather. He noted that media day went off smoothly.

"I don't know if it's ammunition (for nay sayers) because we were able to have our event without too much inconvenience," Supovitz said.

"Wherever you go, you always want to have a contingency plan. In South Florida, we have a contingency plan for flooding. In Detroit, we had a contingency plan for snow. In Indianapolis next year, we'll have similar plans like that for deep cold and snow.

"Here, we had a contingency plan for frozen precipitation because ice is the thing that you have to be most concerned about."

Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said sand truck crews gave the "bad storm" everything they had to keep roads clear.

"I don't think the question is, we will never have a Super Bowl again in a town that has bad weather or the potential for bad weather," he said. "I think they want to showcase the investment they've made in their stadiums. I think the judgment will be, how was our response? And I'm proud of our response."

Still, the deep freeze was a jolt to everyone. Downtown Fort Worth was virtually deserted, as were most ice-covered roads across the area, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport Tuesday.

The North Texas climate can be moderate -- highs were in the mid-70s just days ago -- but the area left no doubt about its wintry side. The National Weather Service forecast temperatures won't be above freezing until Friday and Sunday's forecast calls for highs in the mid-50s.

Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, vice chairman of the host committee, was disappointed by the unusual weather, and he blamed the board's chairman -- fellow ex-Cowboy Roger Staubach, who is credited with coining the football term "Hail Mary."

"That's Staubach's fault," Aikman joked. "He's the one with the direct line to the man upstairs -- at least that's what I've been hearing all these years."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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