Cardinals support bill to ban drones from flying near Busch Stadium

By Jacob Cavaiani, contributing writer from University of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY (KMOX) — A proposal backed by the St. Louis Cardinals would ban drones from flying near Busch Stadium and other large, open-air stadiums, including Memorial Stadium at the University of Missouri.

General counsel for the Cards, Michael Whittle went before a Senate panel Monday asking lawmakers to include large open-air sports facilities to a bill that would ban drones flying over prisons, mental hospitals and county jails.

The proposal, which Whittle asked a Senate committee to adopt, would ban drones near open-air sports facilities with a capacity of 30,000 or more. That includes the Cardinals', Kansas City Royals' and Kansas City Chiefs' venues, and even the University of Missouri's football stadium.

Whittle said drones pose a threat because they can carry explosives, biological weapons or chemical weapons.

“Unfortunately, there is nothing in our current Missouri law that would make it unlawful for a drone operator to fly a drone into a mass gathering space, such as a large open-air stadium, imposing a threat to its occupants and/or causing an actual attack and/or mass panic or fear from an attack,” Whittle said.

The stadium proposal has not been added to a bill yet, but the sponsor for the House version, Rep. Mike Henderson, said his hope is a Senate committee will adopt the language. Henderson's bill, HB 324, passed the House in February and is now being considered by senators.

“We’ve got new technology in drones, and we’re trying to make sure that we’re keeping those areas safe from this new technology being used in the wrong way,” Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, said.

The House bill would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly fly a drone near a correctional facility or mental hospital. The bill would make it a felony if someone used the drone for the purpose of delivering a weapon or controlled substance with the drone.

The stadium proposal would create similar punishment. It creates a misdemeanor to fly a drone near the sports facility and a felony for the purpose of delivering a weapon or controlled substance.

There is also a Senate version of the prison bill, which makes it a felony to use a drone to help an inmate escape or deliver a weapon or drug.

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