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Posted on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.

M Den owner Dave Hirth pleased with new contract with Michigan athletic department

By Andrew Reid

Ann Arbor-based M Den is back as the official retailer of University of Michigan athletics gear as of July 1, and owner Dave Hirth says Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon played a large role in the two-plus months negotiations.

“He’s a dynamic person,” Hirth said of Brandon. “His fingerprint is on every turn of the road. He’s very hands on at every level. He was absolutely involved with our negotiations, and that wasn’t the case before. The feeling we get is that he’s in deep with every aspect of the athletic department.”

The M Den, which was the primary retailer for 10 years, lost the contract in June 2009 to Dallas-based eSports to supply website sales and game-day apparel at Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena. Hirth and Brandon declined to discuss specifics of the new deal, but the eSports deal guaranteed Michigan $1.5 million in 2009 and was supposed to rise to $2.25 million in the second year.

Brandon said in a phone interview that the athletic department hasn't released the terms of the contract, but he did confirm that it's initially a long-term deal with opportunities for extension.


The M Den has a large store on State Street in Ann Arbor.

File photo

"The M Den is a Michigan-based company, and we’re a Michigan public institution," Brandon said. "They're based out of Ann Arbor, and so are we. We've shared the same brand for decades. They understand our market, our institution, and our brand and history. Those factors led me to believe that this partnership was the best way to move forward."

Neither Brandon nor Hirth got into the specifics of why the University decided to cut ties with eSports. But Brandon said, "several weeks ago, we encountered some difficulties with our previous partner. And it became apparent that the best course of action would be to choose be a new partner."

The M Den will operate nine locations inside and out of Michigan Stadium during the 2010 football season, starting with the season opener against UConn on Sept. 4. That’s quite a heavy load compared to last year, when M-Den had one large tent full of merchandise on Main Street and counted on its new, large location on State Street near the heart of the campus to drive sales.

“We wanted to be a team on this,” he said. “This contract needed to be a win-win for both sides. And we feel comfortable with where this contract ended up, from our perspective and theirs.”

Brandon agreed.

"That’s the way it should be with any partnership," he said. "We needed to come up with a way to achieve their business objectives, as well as ours. And I think we’ve come to an agreement."

Hirth said it usually takes eight months to prepare for the boom of the football season. Brandon was confident that M Den would be ready for the fall, because the have "been there, done that" and know the facilities, fan base and the pressure of game day.

“When something of this magnitude gets on the radar in March or April, the timeframe is incredibly short,” Hirth said. “It’s been a foot race.

“It’s a matter of loading up on the merchandise. It’s a major operation at this point, but we have a lot of help from manufactures, who have been great to us throughout the years.”

Andy Reid covers sports for He can be reached at


james ritchey

Wed, Sep 19, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Hey Dave, huge fan (that lives in Columbus!!) I recently purchased 2 hats that just did not fit right, returned them to Doug. The replacements do not feel any better. I have been emailing Doug to see if i could just get a refund to no avail. Any suggestions? I have even asked for your contact info..., no reply!! Thx Dave & GO BLUE!!!

Robbie Webb

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

The losses to MSU are most certainly not his fault. They did their best with what was going on. And what makes you think he's next on the list? Aside from getting our beloved M-Den back, there's only one other mistake that needs to be fixed. I just wish he had a magic wand to make all of the Rich Rod haters disappear. Thankfully I have to hear about it when Michigan has a successful season this year.

3 And Out

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 3:34 a.m.

Robbie = Scooter from Freep...except here he plays the concern troll because he desperately does not want RR to be fired, as his Spartans are finally beating UM regularly....and that is on keep it up Scooter...we are on to you. Anyway, regarding MDen...Mlive can censor me all they like but they know that my points are valid... Bill Martin messed up a good thing out of greed and Brandon is righting the ship in all ways, so to speak... RR is next on the list.


Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 12:36 a.m.

WWBoDo - don't worry, there will be 100,000+ Michigan fans cheering on their maize n' blue against UConn. Have fun golfing!

Robbie Webb

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

Who put Rich Rod in the same category as Bo? I must have missed something.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.

Nuff said! I am done. When someone puts Bo in the same category as RRod, logic goes out the window. Have fun at the UConn game. I will be playing golf! Its yours to have fun with and defend from now on!

Robbie Webb

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 8:03 p.m.

No, he was made one. He earned it. There were players who didn't like him and quit because he was an intense coach. As a matter of fact, his players refered to him as a field general. Rodriguez had a lot going on with the roster, calling him a bad coach is not accurate or right. Plus, he's only been here for two years. Comparing him to everyone you just named wouldn't make sense.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

Not made one, he was one! In fact, he added to what is a Michigan Man with his value system! As I said, it is not the sheepskin, but rather the value system. But, look, I am not trying to convince you. If you think that RR measures up to Yost, Elliott (Pete, Bump, Dave and Bruce) Oosterbaan, Lund, Schembechler, Carr, Strack, Hatch, Pullian, Russell, Harmon, Timberlake, Dufek(Don,BIll and Donny), Berenson, Simmons, Kramer, Ortmann, Connely, Yearby, Buntin, Franklin, Hutchins, et, al., then you got your Man! God Bless you! I think Michigan deserves better---just one man's opinion who has watched from the bleachers with, until now, great pride!

Robbie Webb

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 7:33 p.m.

Michigan does not have to have a ''Michigan man'' and you are made a Michigan man not born one. Bo came from Miami of Ohio. He was made one.

Robbie Webb

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

I agree the M-Den is the way to go but, WWBoDo, most of what you said are not facts. No one said they are happy with sanctions or losing to OSU. But everyone makes mistakes and Rodriguez has only lost twice to OSU, Lloyd Carr accounted for four out of the last six. And Rodriguez did not lose control over the football program, there were communication issues. You have to understand what's really going on.


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 7:12 p.m.

Look, here is how I look at it (which certainly will be subject to challenge) with respect to former management; 1. M-Den is the only choice--local ownership, high integrity member of the community (that could clearly absorb the lost jobs if that is a fact)--why would Billy look anywhere else? If you are happy with esports, you are happy with Billy M. 2. UM no longer has WJR as its voice--to the dismay of many of the WJR folks--if you are happy with that, you are happy with Billy M. 3. Michigan, for the first time in its football history, is waiting to see if self imposed sanctions are sufficient to forestall anything more from the NCAA. If you are happy with that, you are happy with RR and Billy M. 4. Michigan cannot compete with Ohio State--if you are happy with that you are happy with RR and BM, 5. Short of Brandon's involvement (PTL) we would have a two time felon as the star of our of recruiting class thanks to RR and, indirectly, Dollar Bill, 6. Many long term loyal fans, some former players, can no longer afford their tickets--if you are happy with that, you are happy with BM and, to be fair, the NCAA mill, 7. Matter of fact, if you are happy with the lack of control over the football program, you are happy with RR, and, ipso facto, BM. Look, I hate to pile on, but facts are facts. It is hard to find a Michigan Man (value system, not a sheepskin), but that doesn't mean you don't search!


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

Brandon didn't "correct" any mistakes, because cutting ties with eSports was not the choice of the UM athletic department, the contract was broken by eSports. And everyone commending UM for "keeping it local" with M Den, doesn't know what they're talking about. EVERY employee of eSports was LOCAL. Now 100 people from Ann Arbor and the vicinity are without jobs.

Seasoned Cit

Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

Nice to see M-Den back! Remember how e-sports had said they were going to open local retail outlets etc.? Did you ever try to make a return or exchange with something you bought at the stadium? Nice try.. the stores were only open on the days of events and locked up otherwise! No customer service! By the Way It was President Bollinger and his East Coast architect friends that came up with the Halo. Not Goss.. and I think the WJR /MSU switch had a lot more to do with Quicken Loan's big time advertising contracts..(with their strong MSU ties) than Bill Martin's mishandling. Have you noticed the other special MSU related programs on WJR? If anything.. Remember that it was UM that got WJR away from MSU. What goes around, comes around! Bill Martin's deal with the Texas e-sports group was $ driven and not one thinking about Michigan jobs etc. The University Financial world has done the same... Have you noticed that the UM's main bank is not a Michigan Bank! That's why most donation and billing payment checks are being sent out-of-State processors!


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Now, if we could just get back one of if not the best radio station in America, WJR UM would once again be "Leaders and Best!!"


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

M Den is the very best UM sports store. Dave Brandon is a winner and he's proving it over and over!


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

Add WJR to Mr. Martin's legacy! Yikes!


Thu, Jun 24, 2010 : 3:34 a.m.

Mitch Tom Goss made bad decisions such as the halo around the stadium which does not make him a moron. But because he destroyed the Michigan basketball program primarily by swapping out Steve Fisher for Brian Ellerbe just before the season and sticking with Ellerbe long term, he might as well have been a moron. In the same way, the switch from M-Den was a bad decision by Bill Martin which does not make him a moron. But he destroyed the Crown Jewel at the University of Michigan, the football program, by hiring RichRod after having been given a years' notice of Lloyd Carr's retirement, and watching it become not only a losing program, but a cheating and soon to be officially on probation program. That makes him a might as well have been a moron. Nearly anyone could turn a profit with the Michigan athletic program. Don Canham was an innovator that other universities tried to emulate. Unfortunately, Bill Martin was merely emulating other universities such as Ohio State when it came to running the athletic program and behind the times with the decision to update the football stadium. Like Tom Goss, Bill Martin should be known as a disastrous failure.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 10:35 p.m.

I am very happy that D. Brandon did this. I was so upset about the other deal that I vowed I would not buy one dust speck from them. I kept getting emails from them, despite calling and emailing them to get off their list. They were a business that did not know its customer, and had no business ever getting that contract. Good luck MDen, and good job, David Brandon and athletic dept staff. As others have said, only one more to go (well, at least one big one to go). And while we're at it, the renewal for Red is almost as big news as the MDen. So far, so good.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

Good news. I missed them at the stadium, and I'm glad that the eSports interregnum is over,

Robbie Webb

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

I love the M-Den! Glad it's back. But the only other problem at hand is the spoiled whining fans. I love how they turn every story into something about Rodriguez. This has nothing to do with him. If only they understood what's really going on. Oh well, they'll just have wait until September 4th.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 6:06 p.m.

Don't know Brandon personally, but I do know Dave Hirth (was my junior high school phys ed teacher), watched him play for National Champs Lightcrete fast pitch softball years ago and have been friends ever since. I can tell you there are none better than Mr. Hirth. High integrity, consummate professional--just a good person!! Glad he is back!! Good first step, Mr. Brandon. This, like your other problem, was and is, a no-brainer!! Both mistakes of your predecessor. Please deal with that problem as soon as you can!!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

Brandon is righting one of Bill Martin's many wrongs...I'm so glad we've got new leadership in A2 that truly understands the Michigan way.

Art Vandelay

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 4:44 p.m.

Thanks Dave. This Victor's Club member is very happy about bringing the contract back here locally.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 4:22 p.m.

I'm VERY happy about this news. Once again, David Brandon is showing wisdom and good judgement early in his tenure as AD. Choosing eSports over M-Den was one of Bill Martin's big mistakes - especially from a bad PR point of view. M-Den is a great store and locally owned. I've bought all my Michigan stuff there the last few years and none from the Dallas company. Go M-Den!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

This is excellent news! Not only is it the right thing to do for Ann Arbor, but that retailer from last year left A LOT to be desired. Even the stores at the Big House felt like glorified garage sales last season. I bought all my gear from the M-Den last year nonetheless. Excellent decision and GO BLUE!!


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 3 p.m.

Welcome back M-Den! Thanks to UM Athletics for righting a serious wrong.


Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

that's why it's considered a "family" business.

3 And Out

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Good on ya' D. Brandon for correcting yet another mistake of your predecessor... a few more mistakes to go though, including the one big lame fish. Go Blue, back on track!