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.
“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.