The city of Santa Clara has announced a new local ordinance which will prohibit drones over the Super Bowl, scheduled for February 7, 2016. The new law specifies a ½ mile “no-fly zone” over Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers; the Santa Clara University stadium; and “within or over any sporting and/or large venue special event.” The ordinance, which took effect on September 19, notes that violation of the law is a misdemeanor punishable by fine and confiscation of the drone.
This law is in addition to 2014 FAA regulations which restate an existing rule prohibiting pilots of any aircraft from flying under 3000 feet and within 3 miles of stadiums used for events by NCAA Division 1 football, Major League Baseball, National Football League, and major car races. The FAA regulations name the no-fly zone as “national defense airspace” for one hour before and after events at stadiums with a seating capacity greater than 30,000, although the regulations exempt the “broadcast rights holder” of the event.
The Santa Clara ordinance comes in the wake of increased concern about drone use at sporting events. In July, the city of Cincinnati reminded fans that drones would be prohibited at the MLB All-Star game. Earlier this month, a New York man was arrested and charged with multiple offenses including “reckless endangerment” after crashing his drone into an empty section of seats during a match at the US Open Tennis Tournament in Queens. Two days later, a drone flown by a University of Kentucky student crash-landed inside the football stadium during the pre-game party at the home opener.
While none of these incidents resulted in injury or significant property damage to anything but the drone, stadium officials have become increasingly aware of the need for clear regulations concerning the use of drones at their venues. Santa Clara’s new law may be the first of many as cities struggle to clarify the rules.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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