The party's over. It's time to clean up — and pay the bills.
That job belongs to Fraser Bullock, the chief operating officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He's the man in charge now that Olympic boss Mitt Romney has announced he'll step down next month to focus on his run for governor of Massachusetts.
"We want to be extremely responsible in winding up the Games in as good a fashion as we did putting on the Games," Bullock said. "I'm committed to stay and be responsible for that oversight until it's done."
The books on the 2002 Winter Games could be closed as soon as the end of the year. Just how much of a profit the $1.3 billion event will show is still unclear, but Bullock said he hopes to have a final number when the SLOC Board of Trustees meets on April 24.
At that meeting, Bullock is expected to be named president and chief executive officer of SLOC, which has shrunk from 1,000-plus full-time employees to just over 400. Trustees also will be asked to slash the size of their board from more than 50 members to just six or seven.
"The mission of the board has been accomplished," Bullock said. "People might have an emotional attachment to the Games and not want to let go, but practicality needs to enter in here. Everything needs to wind up very quickly and efficiently."
Bullock himself is hurrying to settle with SLOC's remaining creditors. About 2,500 contracts already have been closed out, but more than 800 are still outstanding, including the host city agreement with the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC owes the organizing committee more than $30 million from sponsor deals. Organizers owe the IOC about the same amount of money in royalties from the sale of tickets and Olympic merchandise, a debt that would have been forgiven had the Games lost money.
That's not going to be necessary, Bullock said. "We will meet all of our obligations."
Some have already been met, including the $99 million owed for the state's Olympic facilities. Bullock said organizers also could pay off early some $40 million in bonds issued for Olympic projects at the University of Utah.
"I have no concerns at all," he said of taking over the organizing committee. "Obviously, there are some tricky issues that we have to navigate through in terms of all these settlements and payments, but I feel comfortable."
SLOC moved its offices this week from a lavish office tower on Main Street to a single floor of a smaller building on 200 South. It's the same building that SLOC occupied when Bullock was hired three years ago, shortly after the Olympic bid scandal surfaced.
"I knew when I signed on this was going to be a long road full of many, many obstacles. But looking back at this point, I have absolutely no regrets. I've loved the experience," Bullock said. "It's a feeling of tremendous satisfaction."
That doesn't mean there weren't difficult times.
One of his five children, Michael, now 20, was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. He's now cancer-free, but Bullock spent many nights beside him at the hospital during the year he was being treated.
"That was the toughest for me. That was the hardest," Bullock said, recalling how he'd wake his son up in the morning to give him a shot that was part of his treatment before leaving the hospital for the office.
It was the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States that gave SLOC "the greatest pause," Bullock said. Even then, though, "there was never any question we would go ahead. It was just, 'How are we going to do this?' "
That was a question Bullock answered again and again in dealing with issues large and small, in a role he jokingly refers to as, 'Mr. Inside.' While Romney met with sponsors and the press, Bullock and his staff spent their time dealing with the details of the Games.
"I remember looking at sizes of parking lots and how many parking spaces we could fit in there and how that tied into ticket sales and road capacities," he said. "I knew that my job was to make sure everything worked, financially and operationally."
Bullock said he was never bothered by the attention Romney received. "The fact that we're not on the front page of the newspaper doesn't really matter. It's what we delivered as a team to the world."
That, he said, was "certainly the best-operated Games without question." Even new IOC President Jacques Rogge, who said he would break with tradition and not rank the Games, labeled them "superb."
"You just could not have had a Mitt Romney without a Fraser Bullock," said Nolan Karras, who represents Gov. Mike Leavitt on the SLOC board and heads its finance committee. "He's an unsung hero in my mind. . . . He's an asset to the state and to the Olympics."
Before joining SLOC, Bullock was a founding partner of a lucrative business consolidation firm in Alpine. Both he and Romney attended Brigham Young University, and they worked together in Boston at Bain & Co., a consulting firm, and later at Bain Capital.
Unlike Romney, Bullock, 46, doesn't see politics in his future — or anything else at this point. "I'm very much a person who has to complete something 100 percent before I can shift gears," he said. "I'm in no rush."