The home of the All Blacks, Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, took on an unusual guise this weekend when it hosted drone racing.
Members of Flight Club Auckland and Rotocross New Zealand participated in the event which is one of the first in a New Zealand sports stadium. Watch a video here.
There have been several close calls recently where drones have compromised commercial aircrafts’ flight paths and this week an New Zealand Air Force helicopter sighted a drone just 60 metres from its position which interrupted operations at the local air base.
It’s envisaged greater regulations on drone operations will soon be introduced in future so Eden Park aims to provide facilities for owners to utilise drones and hone their aerial skills safely.
CEO Nick Sautner said:
The emergence of eSports as a legitimate event worldwide highlights the need for stadium diversification. In addition, cultural, arts and music events will attract new audiences who may have never attended a rugby or cricket match at Eden Park, all whilst delivering significant economic benefits to the community.
Intel Extreme Masters, who host a series of pro gaming tournaments globally, held its 2018 event in Poland in front of crowds of 173,000 which made it the biggest live event in eSports history. Sautner added:
Footage from drone races receives a large online audience as opposed to live crowds in the stadium however this digital traction creates valuable tourism opportunities for venues and their respective cities.
Similar events have been successfully held at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins, and in the Middle East at Dubai’s World Drone Prix which offered pilots $1 million in cash prizes.
A specialised track was set up for the trial and Eden Park hopes to bring a full event to life in the coming months to attract offshore pilots and sponsorship opportunities.