Eden Park takes flight with drone racing

Auckland’s Eden Park stadium successfully hosted its first drone-racing event over the weekend as members of Flight Club Auckland and Rotocross New Zealand put their skills to the test.

The event was one of the first of its nature at a sports stadium in New Zealand.

Eden Park, traditionally a rugby venue, is seeking to provide facilities for drone-users to hone their aerial skills in a safe manner near the venue through the introduction of greater regulations on the use of the devices.

Eden Park chief executive 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.”

He 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.”

A specialised track was set up for the trial event and it is hoped a full event will be staged at Eden Park in the coming months.

In other news, Eden Park has partnered with ActivAsian, a programme created by Sport Auckland that seeks to engage the local Asian community in sports and recreation throughout the city.

Through the partnership, Eden Park is welcoming more than 100 Asian volunteers onto its team. The volunteers will join the Eden Park Spectator Service programme, which engages more than 200 volunteers of Indian, Maori, Asian, European and Polynesian descent.

Sautner said: “We are synonymous with New Zealand culture and community so we must keep up with the changing landscape around us. That means engaging various communities to help bring our events to life.”

The volunteers will range from 16 to 40 years old and will be responsible for tasks such as greeting patrons on loud speakers, directing fans, taking group photos and assisting with stadium promotions.

The Asian community in the Albert-Eden Local Board area makes up 48 per cent of the neighbourhood’s population.

The ActivAsian group was launched in 2011, when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup.

Image: Eden Park