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As you know, we’ve been tracking the developments in the drone-space since 2016. For obvious reasons, our primary interest has been, and will continue to be, people on the grounds and in the bowl, as well as the infrastructure itself. A couple of things have happened since April of 2022. At that time, the Administration released its “Domestic Counter-UAS National Action Plan” which enunciated an 8-point strategy for combating the potential threats imposed by the drone phenomenon. Here are the eight elements:
  1. Expand Legislative Exemptions for UAS Detection and C-UAS Mitigation Activities.
  2. Implement a List of U.S. Government Authorized Equipment for UAS Detection Technologies.
  3. Coordinate Oversight and Enablement Mechanisms for Critical Infrastructure Owners and Operators to Purchase C-UAS Mitigation Systems for Use by Authorized Federal and SLTT Law Enforcement Pilot Program Entities. (SLTT refers to State, Local, Tribal, & Territorial)
  4. Establish a National C-UAS Training Center to Increase Training Accessibility for C-UAS Technician Proficiency in UAS Detection and C-UAS Mitigation.
  5. Create a Federal UAS Incident Tracking Database for Threat Analysis.
  6. Enable U.S. Government C-UAS Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Coordination.
  7. Expand Criminal Provisions and Penalties for Dangerous and Illegal Activities.
  8. Import Restrictions and Export Controls for C-UAS and Counter-C-UAS Technologies.
And just a couple of days ago, DHS released the Administration’s Legislative Proposal to effectuate the Plan. It updates the Emerging Threats Act, continues it for 7 more years, and engages 4 more agencies in the fight: State Department, NASA, CIA and FAA. Here is my summary of its high points:
Federal Emerging Threats Act Reauthorization
  • DHS and DOJ are authorized to “take such actions as are described in subsection (d)(2) that are necessary to detect, identify, monitor, track, andmitigatea credible threat … that an unmanned aircraft system or unmanned aircraft poses to the safety or security of a covered facility or asset.”
  • A “covered facility or asset” is defined as, among other things, a NSSE or SEAR event, certain mass gatherings, and critical infrastructure.
  • Note that the legislation would arguably authorize DHS and DOJ to use the authority in the Act to protect critical infrastructure—such as stadiums that are not having a NSSE or SEAR event.
  • More specifically, the comments provide: “The legislative proposal will allow DHS to separately establish a process by which (i)critical infrastructure owners/operators may request federal counter-UAS assistance(mirroring established processes for counter-UAS support to Special Event Assessment Rating (“SEAR”) events or emerging processes such as the FAA’s Section 2209 application for flight restrictions) and (ii) requests are adjudicated against a risk-based methodology.”
  • Authority is also granted to State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial law enforcement (SLTT’s) to have limited authority to “detect, identify, monitor, or track” (but not mitigate) a UAS by means of “intercept or other access of a wire communication, an oral communication, or an electronic communication”.
  • In addition, a 5-year pilot program is established that will allow SLTT’s to mitigate a credible threat by using a tiered system of disruption.
  • Training is provided in the pilot program by the FBI to those who are authorized to mitigate the threat.
  • Privacy protection standards are spelled out.
  • Up to 12 SLTT entities, annually, could employ the detection and mitigation authorities in the Act.
  • The Act would also provide for appropriate testing of C-UAS systems as well as personnel training by the FBI.
NASA provisions
  • The proposal would authorize NASA to detect, identify, monitor and track unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that threaten certain critical facilities and assets. But, it could not “counter” or mitigate a credible threat.
CIA provisions
  • These provisions essentially give the CIA authority to “effectively detect and respond to physical attacks by terrorist actors or hostile foreign states, as well as to foreign intelligence services seeking to collect sensitive national security information about CIA’s personnel, facilities, and activities in the United States.”
FAA provisions
  • The FAA’s mandate is to protect the National Airspace. Consistent with that, these provisions would impose a civil fine, up to $25,000, for any person who “adversely impacts or interferes with safe airport operations, navigation, or air traffic services, or the safe and efficient operation of the national airspace system…”. However, “person” does not include the federal government, anyone employed or authorized by it, or sworn law enforcement officers of a state, local, tribal, or territorial government of the U.S. who is acting “in coordination” with DHS or DOJ.
In my opinion, there are at least 2 important takeaways.If, this legislation passes, stadiums should be able to work with DHS and the FBI to not justdetectthe presence of drones but tomitigatethem as necessary and appropriate—without running afoul of the law. Secondly, the stage is being set for the direct and ongoing involvement of local law enforcement which, because of the national air space, has been cloudy at best.
Lastly, the SMA was invited to participate in a FAA UAS Detection and Mitigation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) beginning this past May and, although its deliberations are confidential, I can say that they line up pretty well with the National Plan and the Proposed Legislation. Passing this legislation would certainly give the stadium world something they’ve been waiting a long time for.

Memo provided to SMA from Legal Counsel Mike McCormick regarding updated drone legislation. 

Committing to two-year sponsorships, these organizations have stepped up to the plate, showing their commitment to the mission and programming that the Stadium Managers Association (SMA) provides to its members. As strategic partners, you’ll be seeing more from these organizations and we’ll be recognizing their support across our channels.


With their support, SMA will continue to focus on:

Membership Growth and engagement
Expand the audience of who SMA serves to include event planners, guest services, security, engineering, IT, etc. Each of these positions are essential to the stadium manager's role in creating the ultimate brand experience.

Provide education and resources to all members that is timely, consistent, relevant, valuable, and delivered via a variety of mediums for maximum impact.

Identify opportunities for sponsorship that align with our activities and strategy, providing greater value to our sponsors and members, and securing financial resources needed to execute new SMA programs and services.

You’ve seen new programming and opportunities from SMA already this year, and we’re looking forward to continuing our forward progress, with the help of our strategic partners

For Release 10:00am  |  Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Roadmapping the Future of SMA
Hollywood Beach, FL— Wednesday, February 16, 2022 — Today, during the 2022 Annual Seminar, the Stadium Managers Association (SMA) unveiled the guiding thoughts and initiatives surrounding their 2021-2022 strategic plan. Ongoing projects will be launched throughout 2022, with the initial focus on membership expansion. A new Stadium Membership level has been introduced, making it easier for stadiums to make the most out of a membership investment while also encouraging participation across multiple departments. SMA’s ongoing mission is provide an avenue to exchange ideas and receive stadium-specific education & information on emerging trends, so stadium managers can create the ultimate brand experience for fans, stakeholders, owners, vendors, employees, etc. at their stadiums.

“It’s in our DNA to adapt, change, and overcome as stadium managers on game day, and I think this strategic plan is an important part in our next step with our organization; to live up to that. This is something we should always be striving to do, to make ourselves better, to make ourselves more educated – that’s the point of an organization like this, and with this new strategic plan, we’re doing exactly that.”, said Titus Queen, Membership Committee Representative; Stadium Managers Association.

Network, Educate, Involve
This strategic initiative focuses on the three pillars for SMA and aims to increase membership access for managers of all departments, as they are essential in creating the ultimate brand experience (Network); create educational materials and opportunities that are relevant, valuable, and delivered via a variety of mediums for maximum impact (Educate); develop opportunities for vendor engagement that align with activities and strategy, providing greater value to sponsors and members (Involve).

“The combination of all three strategic pillars will allow us to continue providing you resources and become a forum for you to improve your businesses, especially post covid, when our businesses restart, and we look at ways to reconnect the fan experience with an effective operation.” said Mario Coutinho, President, Stadium Managers Association.

A video regarding this unveiling is available for viewing here.

About the Stadium Managers Association (SMA)
Formed in 1974, SMA promotes the professional, efficient and state-of-the-art management of stadiums around the world. SMA addresses relevant issues facing today’s stadium managers, and provides educational and networking opportunities throughout the year.
Members include managers, operations and security personnel from stadiums and teams, as well as government entities, colleges and universities and suppliers to the industry. For more information visit
For more information, please contact
Jeana Schultz, SMA Executive Director
515-282-8192 x415

The Stadium Managers Association (SMA) held its annual vote for the 2021 Board of Directors at the Association’s February hybrid seminar.

Following the general election, the Board elected officers to serve a term of one year beginning in February 2021.

Mario Coutinho, Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club was elected as President. Angie Nix, Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco 49ers, was elected as Vice President. Justin Durfey, BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, was elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Matt Kastel, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Maryland Stadium Authority will serve as Past President.

Nicole Andrews, Matrax, Inc; Matt Kenny, Kansas City Chiefs Football Club; Kelsey Smith, CenturyLink Field, Seattle Seahawks and Kevin Kahn, Coors Field Colorado Rockies, were elected to serve on the SMA Board of Directors.

The Board recognized Joe Abernathy, St. Louis Cardinals, for his 14 years of board service including serving on a variety of committees, as Treasurer, Vice President, President, and most recently, as the ex-officio Chair of the Alumni Committee.

Ex-Officio advisors include Seminar Chair Rick Nafe, (retired), Seminar Co-Chair, Jim Folk, Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians, Legal Counsel Mike McCormick, McCormick & Associates, LLC, Advisory Council, Troy Brown, Alumni Chair, FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland Browns, and Historian, Bill Wilson.

The Stadium Managers Association (SMA) is an organization that educates and provides industry resources to assist professional and collegiate stadium managers in achieving the highest levels of facility administration and operation. SMA supports and promotes the professional relationships and networking among stadium managers, league officials and industry suppliers that contribute to the success of our members.

The Association is committed to being the primary industry resource for Sports Facility Managers and Leading Suppliers in the stadium industry.