* Overhead lights went out across half the stadium
* Cause of power failure being investigated by NFL
By Larry Fine
NEW ORLEANS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The biggest U.S. sports event of the year and parties across the world were interrupted by a 35-minute power outage during the Super Bowl at the Superdome on Sunday.
Moments after Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones opened the second half with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that gave the Ravens a 28-6 lead early the third quarter, the scoreboard and half of the overheard lights in the Superdome went out.
Officials waved a stop to play in a development that short-circuited the most watched television event of the year.
The overhead lights first went out on the 49ers’ side of the field before dimming in other parts, although some overhead lighting remained on and kept the 72,968-seat stadium from going into total darkness.
The cause of the delay, which the National Football League (NFL) said it was investigating, was initially attributed by TV reports to an outside power feed that died.
New Orleans electric utility Entergy Corp said it was not the cause of the partial loss of power.
The company said the problem that caused some lights to go out during the game was due to an issue with the Superdome’s equipment.
The effects were also felt beyond North America, as the Super Bowl, which determines the NFL champion for the 2012 season, is broadcast live in more than 180 countries and in more than 30 different languages.
CBS, the official broadcaster, was charging advertisers an estimated $3.7 million to $3.8 million for 30-second spots in this year’s Super Bowl.
Last year’s NFL title game, in which the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots, was the most-watched single television program ever in the United States, averaging an estimated 111.3 million viewers.
Super Sunday is the second-largest day for consumption of food and drink for Americans, behind only Thanksgiving Day.
Americans will consume an estimated 50 million cases of beer on the day.
With the field only dimly lit, players whiled away the time stretching on the artificial turf, quarterbacks were tossing balls around and cheerleaders were going through their routines.
When the lights finally came back on, play resumed to the cheers of the Superdome crowd and parties revved back up around the globe.