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MLB Seeks Legal Right to Defend Its Ballparks Against Drones

By

Andrew Cohen
September 14, 2020

Major League Baseball has had four games delayed this season due to instances of unauthorized drones flying above stadiums during games. The disruptions have led MLB to reach out to Congress about discussing ways the league can legally protect itself from unauthorized drones that encroach ballpark airspace.

In a statement provided to Morning Consult, an MLB spokesperson said the league is “diligently pursuing appropriate Federal congressional action to legally enable more robust mitigation efforts” as it relates to drone threats. This year’s drone issues took place at Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Target Field and Dodger Stadium, with each resulting in umpires taking teams off the field until the drones flew away.

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying within three nautical miles of a sports facility on game days. However, the FAA only permits the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department with the legal authority to take down unmanned aircraft systems, meaning security teams at MLB ballparks are not allowed to attempt to intercept or disable incoming drones. (At NFL games, a law enforcement officer from the Department of Justice is typically on the premises to run point on any potential drone investigations.)

According to the Congressional Research Service, defense mechanisms against drones include guns, nets, directed energy, frequency-jamming devices, and trained animals such as eagles. Some sporting venues, such as MetLife Stadium, deploy drone detection systems to identify drones flying in nearby areas.

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