Heading into the home stretch of the first International Swimming League (ISL) season, mainstream media coverage has often focused on how the league is going to remain financially viable given a lack of sponsors and relatively low ticket sales for a professional sports league. But in an interview with the Washington Post’s Rick Maese earlier this week, founder and financial backer Konstantin Grigorishin said that he’s seen enough proof already that the league will be successful.
“I think all of this [fast swimming, ticket sales and meet atmosphere] confirms my hypothesis that the public is hungry for swimming,” Grigorishin said. He added that he expected “financial struggles” at the outset of the league, but expects sponsors to get on board now that one season is in the books.
“We’re in the most tough financial stage. We’re investing the money,” Grigorishin said. “But how do you convince a sponsor to sponsor something that does not exist? Now we have a product.”
Grigorishin thinks that next year’s Olympics will lead to an increased interest in the pro league, and added that season two will include two new teams and a whopping 27 meets (there are seven this year) that will run from September to April — that’s at least a meet every week throughout the season.
Maese’s report also included some attendance numbers from this season. While the meets haven’t looked particularly well-attended, the league says it has had some sellouts. The first meet in Indianapolis saw “between 700 and 1,000” people each day, while the Dallas stop sold out with 1,000 fans. The matches in Naples were reported as near-sellouts with 1,600 attendees, and Budapest meet sold approximately 2,200 tickets each day, according to the Post.
gotta burn that shirt my dude,
I have to say that the ISL should step up their marketing game. We are in Canada and bought tickets to the upcoming meet in December. Ticket cost was expensive in Canadian dollars for sure. We could not choose our own seats (could only see the section on the seat map) so we are crossing our fingers we are getting what we paid for in premium seats. Also, there is no way of knowing which big names will actually show up… really wish there was a confirmed attendance list, and if there is, well we couldn’t find it as there was next to no information on the ISL website.
Can’t confirm attendance until all the rounds are finished. Or maybe they could this year because it’s not close but typically they won’t be able to.
There needs to be improvement on the graphics and story. Even for a swimstats nerd like myself, it’s hard to keep track of 8 swimmers and 4 teams. Would be nice if they had more commentary on strategy. Can dressel/hoszu handle 5 events back to back etc.
Next year they can add ISL records which will be nice.
Skins matches are very cool. Would be wild to see a medley skins competition where you can enter as your best (or strategically most optimal )stroke and the top 2 from each stroke make it to the elimination rounds.
Agree in principle that the ISL does need to extend significantly if it is be sustainable giving teams greater visibility and identity. Whether 27 meets is too much in one jump may be open to speculation.
Ideally it would be preferable to extend the number of competing teams and into other major markets. Whilst getting AUS TV airtime is a plus, I’m skeptical of an AUS outfit surfacing by next season …. if we see a next season. However, post Olympics its more than feasible that you may see increased interest/uptake from Asian swimmers and a more realistic chance of at least one Asian based/registered team …. which in turn may also lure more AUS swimmers (either new or from… Read more »
A season starting in Sept will have very few high profile olympians. Most of them are on training breaks and or cashing in on appearances and endorsement. They basically never compete until at least January if not later. I don’t see this league changing that. The money just isn’t enough.
Unless they can get Asian swimmers to participate, there will only be more weaker teams.
I’m convinced that more people will be interested in swimming after the Olympics, although there’s a few things the league needs to fix:
1. Make sure that the meets happen in cities that have teams. The DC meet sold well because the DC Trident is a team. There’s no teams based within a 12 hour drive of the Indy or Texas meets. Very few people are going to take a flight to see a swim meet
2. Create the rosters by draft. The American teams in particular are weaker because they basically split all the swimmers of one country. Roar basically gets all the swimmers of two powerhouse swim nations which leads to an unbalanced team. Redraft the… Read more »
Why do we need a redraft? College sports aren’t done on a draft. Get out there and recruit your players.
College athletes are not paid big $$$ for getting to the NCAA final. The payoffs to ISL finalists is significantly larger than to other teams. Recruiting process (if it was actually free market recruiting) predetermined from the very beginning who would be those finalists. All these prelim meets were just farce.
Numbers have been all over the place… Cody Miller reported 4 more teams and 60 + meets. Blake pieroni reported 16 meets and 4 more teams…. I’m concerned no one really knows what is going on