Can You Fly A Drone Near A Major League Sports Game?


can you fly a drone near a major league sports game

Over the years, drones have become increasingly popular and remain one of the fastest progressing technologies of the 21st century. Whether you make use of drones for recreation or business purposes, you’ve probably asked yourself, can you fly a drone near a major league sports game?

Well, the short answer is that flying drones near major league sports games is prohibited by the FAA. Additionally, UAS operations are prohibited within a radius of three nautical miles of the sports venue. This is to protect the people attending the games and the players on the field. 

Can Drones Be Used To Broadcast Baseball Games?

drone shot of baseball stadium by the sea

It’s been said that the MLB is receptive to unorthodox advancements in technology; however, does it mean that they are also open to the use of drones? Unfortunately, we might not get that question answered anytime soon. When it comes to using drones effectively and regularly in the MLB, there’s a lot of confusion. As it stands, though, there are no signs or indications that non-commercial drones will be allowed into sporting arenas.

However, the MLB is always open to the idea of beneficial technology, so it’s crucial to understand that there are concerns about drones, and the reality is that these concerns are valid. The possibility of fans getting hurt during a major league game could lead to tons of problems for both teams, owners as well as venue patrons themselves.

So without regulations in place, anyone could fly a UAS into a sporting arena, and this could be seen as a security threat. Alternatively, drones may be seen as a slight annoyance at baseball games, especially when you have large aerial devices carrying powerful cameras. This would turn out to be a distraction to both fans and players alike.

Currently, drones are prohibited from flying over or near sports games or venues by the FAA. According to the FAA, this is basically a precautionary measure that has been put in place to protect people from possible crashes or intentional attacks.

So drones definitely do have their place in the world of baseball and could possibly even benefit both fans and players, but there’s always a need for rules and regulations to be set down firmly when it comes to who, where, and when you can fly them. Therefore allowing fans to fly drones in or near major league games could potentially present a safety hazard, and it’s highly unlikely that this will be allowed anytime soon across the United States.

That said, with the right person behind the controller, new viewing experiences for people at home could be created, and it may also afford players better training opportunities on the field.

The Benefits Of Using Drones In Football Games

Commercial drone flight is a considerably new endeavor relative to other technology. The value of drones is becoming more apparent as these features become readily available. So far, drones have lots of potential and, of course, unexplored features, but when it comes to football, it will remain a closed-door affair for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to flying a drone in a sporting arena filled with thousands of people, it’s simply a logistical nightmare. There are also extensive regulations surrounding drone flights, especially in areas where there are crowds involved.

Furthermore, if you plan on operating a commercial drone, you will require a CAA license, and as more teams adopt the technology into their training, it becomes a huge plus for any new coach to have on their resume.

So while drones are used minimally in football at the moment, they will be used more in the future and shall become an integral part of football training and matches.

Flying A Drone Near A Major League Sports Game

When it comes to flying drones in, around, or near any sports venue or game, it’s completely prohibited by the FAA. This is because they have their reasons for implementing these restrictions and it all boils down to the safety of all parties involved.

In fact, no one is allowed to fly a drone approximately one hour before or one hour after the following events, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Champ series and IndyCar series, NCAA Division one football, National Football League, and Major League baseball.

Consequently, UAS operations are restricted within a radius of three nautical miles of the sporting arena and up to 3,000 feet above ground level.

So while drone usage in sports arenas is a controversial topic in the drone community, as it stands, the regulations have been laid down by the FAA, and anyone contravening these regulations may suffer the consequences.

What Happens If You Get Caught Flying Your Drone Over A Stadium During A Game?

Every drone enthusiast would like to capture amazing drone images, and videos, and what’s better than a birdlike view of a completely set alight Stadium containing crowds of fans enthusiastically supporting their favorite sports team.

So as you can see, it’s quite tempting to make your drone fly above one of the sporting arenas during the course of a game.

However, this may prove to be quite a bad idea. As we’ve previously mentioned, flying a drone above a sporting venue while a game is in progress is illegal. The result is a fine of up to 250 thousand dollars, and jail time of around three years is another reality.

So this is a hefty price to pay and if you’d like to find out exactly how much the fines are for breaking various drone laws, then familiarize yourself with the laws in your region, to avoid ending up in the slammer.

crowded soccer stadium

What About Flying A Drone Over An Empty Stadium?

So we know that the FAA has banned or disallowed anyone from flying a drone over a sports venue during the course of sporting events. However, there is nothing that states that you are not allowed to fly a drone over an empty stadium. However, first things first, you should have your drone registered with the FAA if it weighs over 250 g.

So when there isn’t a game being played, the stadium is empty, and this means flight restrictions are temporarily lifted.

Consequently, the lifted or eased rules make launching a drone over a stadium completely legal. Although it won’t be as exciting or adventurous as flying a drone over a stadium crowded with people, stadiums are pieces of beautiful architecture, and being able to capture them entirely and is a great consolation.

However, before you press that button to launch your drone though, take note of other drone laws as well as your local county laws regarding drones.

Can Special Permission Be Obtained To Fly During Games?

This is a question that lots of drone enthusiasts find themselves asking. The answer is that you can, in fact, be granted permission to fly a drone over a stadium during a game using the LAANC system. However, as long as there are people inside the stadium, you are still prohibited from flying your drone over them.

The LAANC system stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, and it’s a system whereby pilots may and should notify authorities that they will be flying in a certain or specific area. However, you should know that depending on the circumstances as well as the airspace you are applying for permission to fly over; there is no guarantee that permission will be granted.

What Is Stadium TRF?

Stadium flight restrictions apply to all aircraft, both manned and unmanned, including drones, and provides temporary protection for stadiums and football fields during sporting events. So what is a TFR or Temporary Flight Restriction?

TFR is a statutory measure that places aviation limitations on certain areas temporarily. They surround a set radius and last for a certain time period, which is determined by the event taking place.

Ultimately, this is done for the protection of the people in the area and to safeguard the particular property in the same vicinity. TFRs are also referred to as No-Fly zones and are normally indicated on a number of mapping apps that you make use of to arrange your flights.

TFRs vary in size and can usually tend to be within a 3-mile radius to a 30-mile radius. The Super Bowl is an instance of a TFR 30-mile radius. This is because it’s a huge sports event in the United States, and thousands of people are present at any given game. So due to the magnitude of the event, the FAA places heavy restrictions on aircraft.

Can Drones Be Used At Sporting Events?

So we’ve established that drones are not permitted to fly above crowds or above a stadium during a game; however, does this mean that they will not be used to stream or film live sports like Nascar races and NFL games?

The NFL was the first paramount American sports league in 2015 to be given the go-ahead to operate drones at a number of league games. This decision came about when the NFL asked for permission to fly these aerial devices over their sports venues to help out their video production team, known as NFL films.

Consequently, when they were given permission to film using drones, there was no need for a group or crew to capture aerial photography, and cinematic shots also became much easier.

Initially, the go-ahead was given for empty stadiums only, but over the years, the NFL has full permission to make use of UAS during games too.

Thanks to the approval from the FAA, the NFL has and is doing some astounding things with drones. Not only are drones being used to film selected practices and documentaries, but they can even drop a football onto the field from quite a height.

Filming games is also a whole lot easier with the use of drones. There is no longer a need to have different available spots, or large poles to hold and support large cameras. Simply fly the drone over the players from different angles to get amazing and lifelike shots of the game.

At the Super Bowl, drones are used for the annual Pro Bowl Skills Challenge. Famous musicians perform on stage while a ton of drones illuminate the sky.

Various images, such as the American Flag or sponsor logos can be seen created by the drones using lighting systems. They are also programmed to fly together in a way that these logos and images are visible.

drone hovers in a indoors stadium

The Future Of Drones And Sports

Step by step team moves and intricate tactics are usually the difference between winning and losing games when it comes to everything from American football to soccer. These industries have also evolved way beyond just games, and are now in the league of billion-dollar businesses.

So it should come as no surprise that elite teams from around the globe are experimenting with drone technology. Huge implications can often result from small advantages. In fact, several sports teams have invested in drones to assist in recording sports training sessions. The tactical work is done here during training and therefore presents the ideal perspective to coaches looking to take their teams to the next level.

Furthermore, drone technology will continuously develop, and the world will see many more operations that these unmanned aircraft are capable of within the sports industry. In fact, some are already being trailed, and drones are used as aids for spectator controls and stadium security.

Conclusion

Drones have clearly begun making an impact on the sports world. Drones are ideally suited to various applications in sports due to their combination of movement, surveillance from the sky, data collection, lifting power, and artificial intelligence.

When it comes to newly emerging sports, drones remain instrumental. For everything from stadium security and logistics to broadcasting, refereeing and aerial mapping, drones will be much more effective than people.

So if you don’t already own a drone, maybe it’s high time you invested in one of these multi-purpose devices. After all, if you are a sports lover as well, it is definitely going to benefit you in the near future.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.

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