A swarm of high-tech drones equipped with cameras flies above a sports stadium, capturing live event footage

Can You Fly a Drone Over a Stadium?

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Stadiums are great venues for watching sporting events, especially American Football. Other popular sports/games include cricket, baseball, rugby, bandy, outfield, and bullfights. 

Thus, you may want to carry your drone to the stadium to capture some fantastic moments of the game. But then, can you fly a drone over a stadium?

No. You can’t fly a drone over a stadium. Federal law restricts stadium drone flights at 3,000 feet above ground level (AGL) within a radius of 3 nautical miles. The temporary restriction is effective from one hour before the event commences to one hour after the event’s conclusion.

This article provides all you need to know about drone operations over stadiums to enjoy events without any issues with the authorities. 

Keep reading.

Can You Fly a Drone Over a Stadium?

It is illegal to fly a drone over a stadium for recreation or as a hobby. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits drone operations up to 3,000 feet AGL within a 3-nautical mile radius.

Such are stadiums with a 30,000 and above seating capacity during events such as:

  • Regular or post-season National Football League (NFL)
  • NCAA Division I football games
  • Major League Baseball (MLB)
  • Major motor speedway events

Event managers can fly authorized drones over an ongoing stadium event to deliver an immersive experience to the audience.

Major stadiums in the U.S. host American football in the NFL or college football. Most others are Major League Soccer stadiums or Major League Baseball ballparks.

The temporary drone flight restriction over stadiums starts an hour before the event to an hour after.

A drone flying over an empty stadium

Below are sample cases of drones flying over stadiums and their consequences:

Sample Case 1:

Pennsylvanian drone operator Matthew Hebert faced charges in January 2024 for conducting an illegal drone flight over Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium during the AFC championship game between the Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland’s announcement on February 5, 2024, the incident caused the authority to temporarily suspend the game.

The operator was charged with three felonies, including:

  • Operating a drone without a certificate
  • Violating national defense airspace
  • Flying an unregistered drone

Sample case 2:

In November 2023, a strange incident occurred during the Monday Night Football Ravens-Bengals matchup. A small drone unexpectedly appeared over the M&T Bank Stadium, causing confusion and two game delays.

The device attracted the fans’ attention largely due to its highly visible flashing red and green and, possibly, the time of its appearance.

What Are the Risks of Flying a Recreation Drone Over an Occupied Stadium?

Using a drone at a stadium can lead to the following drawbacks:

  • Broadcast and imaging violation enhancement equivalent to product ‘stealing.’
  • Game time disruption or forceful event termination.
  • Drone crashing can hurt performers or spectators.
  • Explosive or contraband dropping causes panic.

Can I Fly a Drone Over an Empty Stadium?

Yes, you can fly a drone over an empty stadium. However, according to the FAA, the prohibition on recreation and hobby drone flight is only effective one hour before and after an event.

Some pilots report successfully having flights over unoccupied stadiums like LA Coliseum and Gillette. 

You only need to observe the VLOS (visual line of sight) law.

How Is the Use of Drone Technology Impacting Stadium Sports Events?

Drone technology is amazingly changing things in the sporting field! Professional sports organizers can now bring action closer to the fans using drones.

Although flying drones for recreation over stadiums during events is restricted, managers can use the device for sports broadcasts. This improves the audience’s watching experience and focuses on the second screen, push messaging, and predictive data.

Aerial filming provides an immersive experience for the audience. Multiple drones, real-time data visualization from the sportsmen, and automatic flight control are used.

The greatest challenge for sports fans is watching live events on-site, as some may be far from the action site. Limited information makes it a challenge to locate the sportsperson.

Aerial filming technology provides data visualization and automatic drone flights. A drone can tag the individuals during the event and capture them from different angles.

Thus, the audience gets multiple action views.

A drone flying close to footabll players.

How Are the Professional Sports Managers Using Drones in Stadiums?

There are several ways in which the use of drones is enhancing sports management in stadiums, including the following: 

  • Entertainment and engagement boost
  • Health and Safety
  • Performance analysis
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Broadcasts transformation
  • Security and crowd control enhancement
  • Officiating Improvement

Read on.

Entertainment and Engagement Boost:

Live and online audiences can receive dazzling entertainment, improving sports engagement value with the fans via drone broadcasts.

Capturing stunning shots of the stadium, broadcasting panoramic views, and crowd reactions creates engaging content for live and remotely watching fans.

Drones create spectacular displays and shows by synchronizing flying, projection, and lighting effects that complement the action on the field. 

They provide elaborate and mesmerizing light shows during opening sessions and Super Bowl halftime shows in the Olympic stadiums.

The devices also interact with participants and fans by delivering prizes, messages, or souvenirs, taking selfies, and expressing reactions. 

Fireworks by drones.
Drone Light Show

Health and Safety:

Drones also deliver medical personnel, supplies, or equipment to an accident scene in stadiums quickly and with fewer resources.

Moreover, they enforce social distancing and health protocols like checking attendees’ temperature and mask compliance.

Stadiums’ disinfection is also possible with drones. They evenly spread medical-grade disinfectant spray by flying over the stadium, sanitizing large venues in less time.

Performance Analysis:

Drones capture high-quality aerial footage of sports training sessions, events, and stadiums. That provides valuable data regarding athletes’ and teams’ strategy, performance, technique, and venue layout.

Moreover, drones have software and sensors that measure and analyze distance, speed, altitude, burned calories, and heart rate. The data helps athletes and coaches enhance their skills, monitor progress, and optimize training strategies, leading to improved performance.

Communication and Collaboration:

Drones facilitate information exchange, coordination, and feedback among organizers, officials, coaches, athletes, media, sponsors, and fans. 

So, sports management stakeholders can communicate and collaborate easily and faster with the help of drones.

That reduces physical contact and traveling, saving a significant amount of time. 

In addition, sports enthusiasts get a sense of community and connection when sharing their opinions, experiences, and passions.

Broadcasts Transformation:

Drones have replaced traditional helicopters in sportscasting. They offer the same services at lower operating costs.

Their significantly more compact design allows them to get close to the athletes without risking their safety. Thus, they provide immersive and unique sports action angles and perspectives for broadcasts and live streams.

Security and Crowd Control Enhancement:

There’s a significant boost in safety and security in American football stadiums during large and crowded events associated with the drone technology application.

The device scans the area and alerts the authorities of any hazards, threats, or emergencies in real time.

Drones have thermal imaging cameras and optical zoom to monitor crowds, identify unwanted behavior, and collect evidence. 

Drone monitoring crowd in a stadium

Image Source

Officiating Improvement:

Drones offer extra viewpoints that are extremely useful for stewards and referees. During replays, they provide a more comprehensive picture of sporting incidents, enabling better and quicker refereeing.

What Are the Benefits of Flying Drones Over the Stadium for Broadcasts and Live Streaming? 

Professional sports managers use drones for sports broadcasts and live-streaming due to the following benefits:

  • Immersive experiences: Drones are more agile, allowing them to get close to the action. They can keep up with fast-moving athletes, offering dynamic new perspectives and bringing fans close to the action.
  • Environmental friendliness: The battery-powered drones that don’t require jet fuel or aviation gasoline to operate are environmentally friendly. They have significantly smaller carbon footprints.
  • Unique viewpoints: Small footprints and high maneuverability allow closeness to athletes, providing unique perspectives of the action.
  • Reduced operational expenses: Less personnel needed for drone operation lowers the overall operational costs.
  • Increased safety: Drones have smaller footprints and require no flammable fuel or multiple operators, minimizing the accident risk.

How Do Stadiums Get Rid of Unauthorized Drones?

Stadiums use drone detectors to get rid of unauthorized drones. The gadgets identify, locate, and analyze drone activities and provide forensic data after an invasion.

How Do Drone Detectors Protect Stadiums?

The detectors protect stadiums by:

  • Improving security: Security teams can evaluate current security measures for potential gaps through predictive analytics and update SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) accordingly. The data also serves as evidence for law enforcement.
  • Protecting airspace: Detectors define the airspace by setting up a customizable, pre-determined perimeter around the event area or entire stadium.
  • Detecting drones: The software detects, identifies, and locates illegal drones and their pilots. It warns against drone-based threats before takeoff.
  • Locating threat: By locating the drone and its pilot, you can quickly mitigate the risk, protecting the stadium and the audience.
  • Identifying drones: Automatically alerts the security team of unauthorized drones around the stadium.
  • Tracking drones: The software can track a drone’s flight path and determine the pilot’s location.

Conclusion:

The FAA prohibits flying a drone over a stadium for recreational purposes. It’s a temporary restriction, effective one hour before and after an event.

Hence, you shouldn’t fly your device within a 3-nautical radius and 3,000 feet and below height when an event is in progress.

However, sports management teams can use drones in Football, cricket, and rugby stadiums for broadcasts and live-streaming. The devices provide innovative and versatile management solutions, potentially offering many opportunities and benefits to the industry.

Sports managers use drones to improve operations’ efficiency, quality, and sustainability and to create memorable and more engaging experiences for their partners and fans.

HAPPY FLYING!

Summary
Article Name
Can You Fly a Drone Over a Stadium?
Description
Flying a drone over a stadium can be a lot of fun and very helpful, so in this blog we discuss the issues related to flying drones over a stadium
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Remoteflyer Private Limited
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