Candlestick Park flickers, disrupting 49ers game in front of national audience

The 49ers’ 20-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night was overshadowed by two power outages at Candlestick Park that could certainly bolster the team’s desire to move to Santa Clara.

The lights came on at Candlestick Park as usual for the nationally televised game — then shut off in a glorious flash right before kickoff. The stadium lit up again and the game started, but the power died a second time during play.

The first outage occurred about 25 minutes before kickoff, scheduled for 5:40 p.m., when a PG&E transformer reportedly blew up. The stadium was dark for nearly 15 minutes, and the start of the game was delayed about 20 minutes.

About 6:40 p.m. during the second quarter, it was lights out again. The game resumed about 6:58 p.m. after the second outage.

The double blackout on the popular “Monday Night Football” might give the team even more incentive to move to Santa Clara, where a brand-new $1.02 billion, 68,000-seat stadium is expected to open for the 2015 season.

It was the 49ers’ only Monday night game this season and their final regular-season home game. The team said it would ensure there are no problems when San Francisco hosts a home playoff game next month as the NFC West champions.

PG&E officials said as of Monday night the cause of the outages is unknown.  

Company spokesman Jason King said the utility can only be blamed for one of the power failures, but NFL officials said they saw a PG&E transformer on Candlestick property blow up just before game time.

“There are more questions than answers; we have asked PG&E to assure us and the NFL that this will not reoccur,” 49ers spokesman Steve Weakland said in a statement.

King would only say the company was investigating a downed power line in the area.

“We are investigating if it had anything to do with the outage,” he said. “As far as the second [outage], there is no indication our equipment had anything to do with it.”

Fans in the stadium weren’t bothered by the blackouts.

Rob Rusinko, 37, of Pennsylvania said he used the opportunity to buy a beer and french fries.

“Everybody was extremely calm. I was surprised,” Rusinko said.

Niners defensive lineman Justin Smith took the ordeal in stride.

“I think for everybody out here it’s no big deal,” Smith told ESPN. “We could have played in the parking lot.”

Candlestick Park opened in 1960 as the home of the Giants baseball team. The 49ers started playing there in 1971.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Zack Farmer, special to The SF Examiner, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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