The Cubs are the fourth most valuable franchise in the major leagues at $1 billion, according to Forbe's annual valuation of all 30 teams.

Forbes also estimates the Cubs had an operating income of $32.1 million last year, making them the most profitable team in baseball. Operating income was based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The business magazine said the Cubs figure to be in even better shape after 2014, when they can opt out of their WGN-TV deal and sign a more lucrative contract. Forbes said the Cubs made less than $50 million last year from their broadcast affiliates, CSN Chicago and WGN.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts declined to address their TV plans during his opening trip to spring training in February, 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.”

The Cubs have decreased payroll by 25 percent in the first three seasons of Ricketts’ ownership, while the team has added more revenue streams, including the Toyota sign in left field, a new bar/restaurant in the Captain Morgan Club, a patio section in right field, an LED board in right which shows ads before games and between innings, and even the Noodle, an advertisement for Kraft that was removed after last season.