US real estate developer and owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL team Stephen Ross has committed US$1 million in seed funding to kick-start the Drone Racing League in New York.
The Wall Street Journal reports the NYC startup aims to generate revenue through ticket sales and sponsorship deals. The league plans to run its first public race later this year.
Ross’ investment in the NYC startup is through venture-capital firm Ross Sports and Entertainment (RSE) Ventures — a company he co-founded with partner Matt Higgins in 2012.
“I saw the opportunity to construct a platform of companies that could create new opportunities and dynamic experiences across sports, entertainment and technology,” Ross says.
However, Ross’ partner Matt Higgins says the investment isn’t without its risks. “Our first threshold to cross is to persuade the world that this has potential to be a sport,” he said.
The Drone Racing League is targeting a growing number of video game players, in an effort to replicate the huge success of live video game conferences and competitions, such as ESL One, held at Madison Square Garden.
Drones became commercially available about two years ago and since then the costs of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has decreased, while the tech and speed has greatly improved.
In Australia, underground drone racing has been gaining traction. With an absence of laws defining accepted “fly zones” for drones, racing enthusiasts meet in basements to compete.
Last month, one Australian pilot, Chad Nowak, was crowned the first official world champion after taking out three events in the inaugural US National Drone Racing Championships. Nowak told Business Insider there were several movements under way to start a national league in Australia.
There’s more on the Drone Racing League here.