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Super Blackout Traced to Preventive Equipment

New Orleans — An electrical device that had been installed expressly to prevent a power outage caused the Super Bowl blackout, the stadium’s power company said yesterday as it took the blame for the outage that brought the game to a halt for more than a half-hour.

Officials of Entergy New Orleans, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., said the device, called a relay, had been installed in switching gear to protect the Superdome from a cable failure between the company’s incoming power line and lines that run into the stadium.

The switching gear is housed in a building known as “the vault” near the stadium that receives a line directly from a nearby Entergy power substation. Once the line reaches the vault, it splits into two cables that go into the Superdome.

Company officials said the device performed with no problems during January’s Sugar Bowl and other earlier events, but has been removed and will be replaced. All systems at the Superdome are now working and the dome will host a major Mardi Gras event tomorrow night, said Doug Thornton, an executive with SMG, the company that manages the stadium for the state.

The power failure at Sunday’s big game cut lights to about half of the stadium for 34 minutes, halting play between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

The FBI had ruled out cyberterrorism as a cause.

Entergy’s announcement came shortly before officials appeared before a committee of the City Council, which is the regulatory body for the company, to answer questions about the outage.

Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice and Dennis Dawsey, an Entergy vice president for distribution, told the Council that SMG agrees the cause of the outage was a relay failure. Asked if the two corporations still plan to hire a third-party investigator, Rice said that possibility remains open.

Baseball

Hal Steinbrenner
Concerned About A-Rod

Tampa, Fla. — Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said he’s concerned about the latest drug allegations swirling around third baseman Alex Rodriguez, but that the matter is being looked at by Major League Baseball.

The Miami New Times said late last month that the three-time AL MVP bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances in recent years from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed clinic in Coral Cables, near Rodriguez’s offseason home.

Speaking yesterday at the Yankees’ minor league complex, Steinbrenner said the situation is “a concern, but it’s out of our hands.

Rodriguez has denied the allegations.

D-backs Keep Infielder

Phoenix — The Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Hill reached a deal that will keep him under contract through the 2016 season.

The deal adds three years and $35 million to his existing deal, which pays him $5.5 million this year. That means the overall contract is worth $40.5 million over the next four years.

The 30-year-old infielder hit a career-high .302 with 26 home runs, 44 doubles and 85 RBIs last season, earning him a Silver Slugger award, the first for a Diamondbacks infielder.

Tennis

Nadal Reaches Semis

Vina Del Mar, Chile — Rafael Nadal won his first of two matches yesterday in a test of his sore left knee, defeating fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the VTR Open.

Nadal had not played for seven months until he took the court earlier this week in the Pacific coastal resort city. With a doubles match set for later yesterday, Nadal will have played five matches in four days. He’s yet to lose a set.

If he wins in doubles, he’ll play two more matches today — the doubles final and a singles semifinal.

Skiing

German Wins Super-Combined

Schladming, Austria — Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany bounced back from a disappointing World Cup season to win the super-combined at the skiing world championships yesterday.

Hoefl-Riesch was fourth after the downhill portion before posting the second-fastest time in the slalom to finish in 2 minutes, 39.92 seconds. She beat Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.46.

Men’s College Hoop

Princeton 63, Brown 46

Princeton, n.j. — Denton Koon scored 17 points and Ian Hummer 15 as Princeton remained unbeaten in Ivy League play.

Hummer scored nine points during a 17-5 run for the Tigers (11-7, 4-0) at the end of the first half that produced a 29-17 halftime advantage.

Princeton, which shot 54.8 percent (23 of 42) and made 8 of 13 from 3-point range, never led by fewer than 12 in the second half.

Rafael Maia scored 19 points for the Bears (8-11, 2-3), who shot 38 percent (19 of 50), including 1 of 12 on 3-pointers.

Harvard 67, Cornell 65

Ithaca, n.y. — Siyani Chambers scored 18 points with a career-high 11 assists, the freshman’s second straight double-double, and Harvard held on to defeat Cornell 67-65 Friday night to remain unbeaten in the Ivy League.

The Crimson (13-6, 5-0) twice led by 21 points early in the second half, but Cornell (10-12, 2-3) rallied by shooting 62.5 percent (15 of 24) in the final 20 minutes.

Harvard led 67-52 with 4:21 left after a pair of 3-pointers by Christian Webster, but a 13-0 run pulled Cornell to within 67-65 with 42 seconds left.

A missed free throw by Chambers gave Cornell the ball with 11 seconds to play, but Errick Peck was unable to hit a potential game-winner.

Webster made 5 of 11 3-pointers and finished with 17 points for the Crimson, and Wesley Saunders added 14 points.

Peck had 17 points Cornell. Shonn Miller added 13 points and Johnathan Gray 12.