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Pittsburgh will be bubbling with Springsteen, Pitt, Steeler fans and chemical engineers this weekend

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, 8:50 a.m.

More than 100 football fans traveling to Pittsburgh on chartered buses this weekend from Virginia might have to elbow past engineers for bar seats when they get here.

The tilt on Saturday between Pitt and Temple at Heinz Field, the night's sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert at Consol Energy Center, and the Steelers game with the Washington Redskins on Sunday coincide with the start of a chemical engineering conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Space in hotels, restaurants and in the stands will be at a premium.

“We're definitely sold out,” said Tom Martini, general manager of Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown. “As a matter of fact, we probably could have sold out our hotel twice.”

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers booked most of the Westin's more than 600 rooms and suites for its annual convention, expected to attract 5,900 people and generate nearly 10,000 room nights throughout the city through Thursday. Conferees could spend $8.5 million, VisitPittsburgh estimates.

Then there are the Springsteen and college and professional football fans.

“We had a lot of people circle this game as soon as the schedule came out,” said Jonathan Martin, a sports-travel specialist with Virginia Beach, Va.-based Great Atlantic Travel & Tour Co., which signed more than 100 people for a package costing $399 and up to cover transportation, a hotel room Downtown and a game ticket. Seventy-five people paid $229 for a room and ticket only.

The Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown, sold its 712 rooms and suites from Saturday through Tuesday, said sales and marketing director Tom Hemer.

Also sold out are the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the South Side and the Quality Inn University Center in Oakland. The Quality Inn & Suites North in Gibsonia had a smoking room available on Thursday for $230. Less expensive options, available online, are farther away — at the Clarion in New Kensington ($95) and the Ramada Inn in Washington ($87).

The Fairmont, Downtown, had a few rooms available for $359 per night, but Saturday and Sunday availability is close to selling out, said spokeswoman Julie Abramovic.

There are about 4,600 hotel rooms Downtown, on the North Shore and in Station Square.

“We are absolutely expecting a busy weekend,” Abramovic said. “Anytime there is a Steelers home game, we can expect a busy weekend.”

Martini said restaurants should brace for an onslaught of customers beyond typical football-weekend business, because attendees of the chemical engineering must find breakfasts, lunches and dinners on their own.

“We're about as busy from Saturday through the end of the week as we are at any time of the year,” Martini said.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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