Michigan Announces New Partnership With eSports Partners, Inc.

Submitted by bmbender on June 30th, 2009 at 2:52 PM

The University of Michigan Athletic Department and eSports Partners, Inc., a leader in sports merchandise solutions, announced today (Tuesday, June 30) a multi-year agreement to operate all merchandise operations as the official Athletic Department merchandise partner. The new M Go Blue Shop is now the official store of Michigan Athletics.

According to the article, M Go Blue Shop will be replacing MDEN at the Michigan Stadium. It also sounds from the release that M Go Blue Shop will be opening stores throughout Michigan.


One thing that I hope is that they open stores throughout Michigan, not just in the Southeast Michigan area.

However, it seems that Michigan will benefit greatly from this new alliance. Proceeds from purchases at M Go Blue Shop will directly benefit the University of Michigan Athletic Department scholarships and programs. Martin also stated, "Royalty revenues from these licensing endeavors help support our 25 sports teams, fund athletic department infrastructure, pay for long-term capital projects and contribute to U-M's academic programs."

I looked at the website and one thing that I noticed is that they don't have too many big sizes since I like my jerseys to be big so you can wear a sweat shirt underneath. But I thought I would let everyone know that there is a new store in town.



June 30th, 2009 at 11:40 PM ^

Okay, before I begin, full disclosure, I work at the M-Den so while I might be slightly biased (okay quite a bit) most of what I've found is objective and fact. While I won't be losing my job because of this move, the M-Den will have to lay some people off (namely those who worked at the stadium stores).

For starters, wolverineinnc, the M-Den will have authentic #5 jerseys in the upcoming year. The M Go Blue Shop has the new Adidas jerseys for this year, the M-Den will have them in later this summer.

Regarding the ESports Contract. The University made a huge mistake. Every review of ESports I could find online was heavily negative. No employee seems to enjoy working for them and they appear to have problems paying off debt. They are currently being sued in federal court by the shipping company DHL and that marks the second time in two years they've been sued in federal court.

They signed a partnership with Arkansas in 2003, but as of right now Arkansas is with a different company (no word on why that deal was broken). They currently supply for Tennessee however word has it Tenn is trying to get out of the contract. ESports promised UT a little over $500,000. They promised U of M $1.5 million and up to $2.25 million. With the massive competition in the area, namely the M-Den, I can't foresee how ESports is going to manage to accomplish this.

As of right now ESports doesn't have an Ann Arbor location. So anything you buy online you have to return via mail to Texas. As far as I know they are looking at opening a store on Main Street but that's it. I can guarantee this; they will not open stores statewide. At best they'll open a store on Main Street and maybe in Briarwood mall. But they can't open statewide, there's simply not enough money to be made.

Because they don't have a permanent location here in Ann Arbor the distribution of this year's student tee is going to be a mess. Before, students could come to any M-Den location, present their voucher, and get a shirt. Now they have to order it online, I would guess they'll setup an on campus location though.

As for a deal being striked, there really wasn't anything striked. The deciding factor for the athletic department was the guaranteed money. The scholarship BS is just that, BS. The M-Den guaranteed the University money as well, what they did with it was their own prerogative. The licensing money has always been the way they advertise it now. The single deciding factor was the guaranteed money that ESports will NOT be able to give to the university. Again, I don't know that for sure, but with five competing stores I can't see how ESports is going to get that type of business. There's something to be said for customer loyalty. And the M-Den will continue to carry official adidas merchandise, we just won't have the student tee.

The licensing fee, the money, it was the same deal with the M-Den, the only difference is ESports is guaranteeing more.

As for the shipping costs. You'll more than make it up with the stores high prices. I honestly couldn't find anything that was cheaper than the M-Den, in fact it seems that some items are more expensive. Some glassware is a few bucks more and the store has a Bo Tee that's $20, the exact same one is on sale at the M-Den.

Let's also not forget that the athletic department is shipping money to Texas in this deal. It might say that proceeds directly support the scholarships, but that's the proceeds that ESports sends to them, they certainly keep some of it for themselves (as they should). They put that clause in there to take the sting off of cancelling a contract with a local business and signing with a Texas based company.

What the University has done, striped a local company of a contract for a company thousands of miles away, is literally unprecendented in college apparel. Most athletic departments handle the official merchandise themselves, and if they signup another business they might hire a company like ESports because there's not a local business that's capable of doing it, that was the situation in Tennessee. However, the M-Den had been doing the official merchandising for a decade, and doing it well.

This move literally makes no sense. The M-Den has gameday operations down to a science. We had three trailers insider the gates and seven tents. We had a trailer in the parking lot and tent at Pioneer. According to the release ESports will have nothing close to that. Hell, as of a few weeks ago they were still looking for a manager to head up their stadium store!

The M-Den not only had the multiple stadium tents and trailers, but we have five stores now across the area. So if you purchased something on gameday and wanted to return it the next day you could go to any of the five locations. With ESports, at least until the Main Street store opens, you'll have to ship it back to Texas.

This is a stupid and ignorant move. Google ESports Partners, you'll find negative comments across the board. Couple that with Arkansas, the Dallas Cowboys, the Indianapolis Colts, and soon Tennessee dropping them and it makes no sense. Add in the fact that they are being sued in federal court for the second time, and the decision is down right idiotic.

I obviously encourage everyone to shop at the M-Den, we will have tents outside of the gates on gameday, and if you buy something there you can return it at any of our stores, you don't have to ship it to Texas.


July 1st, 2009 at 2:25 PM ^

I'm glad someone managed to place an order. I've tried 4 times to place an order yet when I enter my credit card info and tell it to confirm the order I get the same error message I did most of the time I clicked something last night. Although the site claims no order was placed, it doesn't give me much confidence to trust it.

I think I'll stick with the M Den for the time being. This new site has me pissed off for the moment. I'll wait till they work out the bugs.