The Bombers will play three of their first four games at home to start the 2014 CFL regular season.
The CFL schedule released by the league Wednesday morning shows the Bombers opening the regular season at home on June 26, followed by another home date July 3 vs the expansion Ottawa Redblacks. Winnipeg then goes on the road for a game in Montreal before returning home again to face the Edmonton Eskimos on July 17.
Winnipeg’s first four home games are on Thursday evenings, with one Friday night game, one Sunday afternoon game, and three Saturday games.
The Bombers also open the pre-season at home against the Argos on June 9.
Bombers GM Kyle Walters told a news conference at Investors Group Field Wednesday afternoon that he didn’t have any particular issues with the new schedule, one way or the other.
"We play 18 games and expect to win everyone," said Walters. "I’m not going to analyze this or that -- line ‘em up and let’s play them and let’s win. It’s not really a concern for me one way or the other for me...We gave our input, the people upstairs did the work and the final product came out. Let’s go."
The Bombers are back in the West Division in 2014, but their first three games next season will be against East Division opponents. Their last four games are against West Division opponents -- Edmonton, Calgary, BC and Calgary in succession.
Fans will have a little more time to find their seats at Investors Group Field for weekday games in 2014. With all the assorted traffic issues surrounding the new stadium last season, the Bombers asked the league to change the starting time of weekday home games in 2014 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Bombers get two home games in 2014 against their bitter rivals in Saskatchewan -- one on Aug. 7 and a second in the Banjo Bowl on Sept. 7.
With nine teams once again in the CFL, the Bombers will get two bye weeks in 2014 -- in mid-September and then the final week of the regular season.
That final week bye will likely be welcomed by the team if they qualify for the playoffs in 2014, giving them a chance to rest and heal in the lead-up to the playoffs. But it will be a wasted opportunity if the team misses the playoffs in 2014 for what would be the third year in a row.
Meanwhile, Walters said that his team’s quest to upgrade their talent level for the 2014 season continues one day after the club signed three players -- receivers Nick Moore and Rory Kohlert and defensive back Graig Newman -- on the opening day of free agency yesterday.
Walters says his team has an offer on the table right now for WR Chris Matthews, who spent the last two seasons with the Bombers and was the CFL rookie of the year in 2012, but elected -- along with 10 other players from last year’s team -- to become a free agent yesterday.
Walters said Matthews’ agent has told the Bombers his client continues to have NFL aspirations and intends to take his time before deciding what he wants to do.
Walters said the Bombers also tendered an offer to free agent running back Will Ford, who was effective for the Bombers late last season. But Walters said Ford was looking for a big raise and the Bombers aren’t willing to pay it.
Walters said none of the other nine former Bombers to become free agents yesterday were extended contract offers.
While Walters conceded his team didn’t get everything they wanted on the opening day of free agency -- the team struck out in its bids to land big-name Canadian free agents like linebackers Shea Emry and Craig Butler -- he said he felt like progress was made.
"We added some nice pieces to the puzzle," said Walters, "and the message is we got better yesterday. It was a real positive day for us."