The Powerful Back Story: Behind the Scenes at Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 has quickly become legendary due to the remarkable success of game day SB 50 with logo_resizeditself as well as the preliminary activities leading up to the game. Who didn’t like the incredible halftime show, Blue Angels and star-studded program? OK, the game wasn’t so great but it was only part of the spectacle.

While fans at the stadium and television viewers may have reveled in the entertainment and atmosphere, few people know how much planning and work went into making sure that everything went according to plan. Here are just a few of the highlights and stats of the post-game recap.

Steady Power at Levi’s Stadium

Even with a nationwide reputation for reliable power, we were reminded of the power outages that struck previous Super Bowl and NFL playoff games. The stadium power performed without a hitch.

Backstory: Imagine our surprise when the celebratory confetti released by the NFL at the end of the game contained shiny metallic strips that can cause problems if they contact electrical equipment. We had already isolated non-essential power equipment in the areas where the confetti was distributed and therefore had no problems.

We have redundancy built into the power grid for all Santa Clara customers, meaning that a problem in one neighborhood or area can often be solved pretty quickly by re-routing electricity to other power lines. Levi’s Stadium, like many large commercial customers, was backed up by more than one circuit ready to handle any power problems. While power could be restored in seconds in the event of an outage, we like to remind fans that the lights for the stadium would take several minutes to attain full brightness if power is interrupted. Some stadiums have addressed that issue by using recently approved LED lights which power up immediately.

Outside the Stadium

Officials were extremely vigilant about possible situations that might inadvertently impact the power supply.

Backstory: The weather really cooperated, which took a lot of the pressure off.SB 50 stadium with logo_resized

Before the game, one of our officials noticed that a wooden pallet was covered with a plastic sheet that was flapping and could conceivably come loose if the wind came up and fly into power lines. The plastic was secured. That same person also noted that the halftime entertainment stage was being prepared outside the stadium under some power lines and warned Super Bowl workers to avoid having metallic helium balloons anywhere near the area.

Social Media Gone Berserk 

The San Jose Mercury News reported that a Super Bowl record 10 terabytes of data were consumed during the game. This was primarily due to fans’ text, video, cell phone and social media activity.

Backstory: To get an idea of how much data this is, according to the Simply Ted information blog 10 terabytes is the amount of storage you’d need to:

  • store everything –everything – you looked at in a year
  • store 5 million digital camera photos
  • fill 2.5 billion pages printed both sides and stacked over 100 miles high (that’s about 500,000 trees worth of paper)

That’s a LOTTA Hot Dogs 

Concessionaires at Levi’s Stadium said 26,000 hot dogs and sausages were sold along with 8,000 glasses of wine, and the 71,088 fans spent an average of about $87 each on food and beverages. That’s second only to the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey where fans spent $94 each. By the way, Super Bowl numbers revert to Roman numerals starting this coming NFL season.

Backstory: ESPN went even deeper, saying 1,000 vegan hot dogs and 500 vegan BBQ sandwiches (made out of jackfruit) were sold. Fans bought 60,000 beverages in souvenir cups.

Millions of Watts all in a Day’s Work

One of the neat things about being in the electric utility business is the fact that electricity is pretty similar worldwide. That brings some interesting people to work for us.

One of those is Sachin Bajacharya, who received his first electrical engineering (EE) IMG_7120degree in Nepal before coming to the U.S. and earning a master’s degree in EE at Lamar University in Texas. With a background focused on power, he then designed and fired up substations for a private Bay Area company that coordinated power infrastructure for commercial customers. Sachin later left that job and joined our team here at SVP as a utility engineer.

“The attraction of coming to SVP was to work with the entire cycle of the electricity business, from how it’s produced and transmitted here to how it’s distributed to the customers,” he said. The distribution system in Santa Clara provides electricity through 525 miles of local power lines.

Now Sachin helps power Santa Clara’s large dynamic business and residential communities, working with millions of watts, or megawatts (MWs), that get distributed to SVP’s 53,000 customers. Getting new state-of-the-art multi-megawatt substations up and running provides him with a special thrill.

“When you see a complex project finally power up and the lights go on, that’s when it’s exciting,” said Bajacharya, a native of Nepal. “I’ll spend a lot of time planning, designing and managing a project so that the power flows safely and reliably.”

“Electricity is a basic need of our modern society and it’s a great feeling to be doing something positive for my community,” said Sachin. As a Santa Clara resident, Sachin enjoys hiking locally with his wife Archana, toddler daughter Tisa, and baby boy, Yaju.

“Things are busy at home with the baby and work is certainly busy at SVP,” he says, “and I’m enjoying both experiences. It’s as much challenge and satisfaction as anyone could ask for.”