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Here’s Why It’s Illegal to Fly a Drone Over Wrigley on Game Day

Chicago police issued one citation to a drone pilot after Tuesday’s big win.

A drone flies above a South Elgin High School football practice in 2014.   PHOTO: TERRENCE ANTONIO JAMES/CHICAGO TRIBUNE

The party in Wrigleyville after the Cubs beat the Cardinals on Tuesday night was surprisingly tame: only seven arrests, according to Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown, a website that monitors crime in Lake View. That’s fewer than the nine arrests in the same area following the Wild Card victory the previous week and far fewer than the 20-plus around Wrigley Field following the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win in June. 

But one entry in Tuesday night’s log was unusual: “7:12 p.m citation for operating a drone over the Clark Street crowd." 

Is it really illegal to operate a drone over Clark Street? In this case, yes. While the law in general is still catching up to drone use—even now, the city is working through drone restrictions, and few are in place—operating one near a sporting event is a clear no-no.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s guide to temporary flight restrictions, last updated in 2010, it is illegal to fly a drone near a stadium before, during, or immediately after a game. Sorry, aerial videographers.

The rules state that stadiums with capacities of more than 30,000 become no-fly zones for unmanned aircraft starting an hour before games. The no-fly zones extend three nautical miles (about 3.5 miles) from the stadium center and 3,000 feet above ground level. (Most drones never break 400 feet.) The restrictions last until one hour after the game ends.

Still want video of the action around Wrigley Field? Keep an eye on this webcam perched at Clark and Addison, which should capture some of any—knock on wood—future celebrations.

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