Cubs games have been broadcast on WGN-TV since 1948, a relationship that has been beneficial to both under three sets of ownership.
The hiring of Harry Caray and the move to become a superstation status spread the gospel of Cubs baseball nationally during the 1980s, helping turn the lovable losers into a lucrative franchise.
For years the Cubs were the only game on TV across the country in the daytime, making them a nationally beloved entity through thick and thin. That in turn helped increase the franchise's value from $20.5 million in 1981 when Tribune Co. bought it to $845 million when the Ricketts family purchased the team, the ballpark and 25 percent of Comcast SportsNet in 2009.
But Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts is always looking to increase the team's revenue sources, and now it appears likely the team will wave goodbye to their longtime TV home when its contract ends after the 2014 season.
Ricketts declined to address their plans on Sunday, except to say a discussion on rights fees will begin in 2013.
"Obviously local media rights have been increasing in value," he said. "Hopefully at some point we will be able to get more value for our media rights. It's just something that's playing out over time."
Ricketts addressed many issues on Sunday, saying the Cubs aren't planning to add extra night games or signage this season. They are trying to convince the city to relax ordinances that would allow them to make those changes, promising to pay the freight for their $300 million Wrigley Field renovation plan when a deal is completed.
But the question about whether the Cubs will leave WGN moved to the front burner after former TV analyst Bob Brenly said Saturday he was ready to return to the broadcast booth before being informed only two years of his contract would be guaranteed because the WGN deal expires after '14.
Cubs may say goodbye to WGN-TV after 2014 season
Chicago Tribune | Feb 18