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Naheed Nenshi celebrates his victory as Calgary’s mayor following municipal elections on Oct. 16, 2017.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Naheed Nenshi has secured his third term as Calgary's mayor after a bitter and personal election fight.

But the battle is far from over.

Mr. Nenshi captured 51 per cent of the vote in Monday's municipal election, besting his right-leaning competitor Bill Smith, who won 44 per cent. But minutes after Mr. Nenshi's victory was declared, a tweet from the Calgary Flames' director of communications showed a rift with the hockey club over the financing of a new arena will remain a contentious point that will shape the future of the city's coffers.

"I can't believe it YYC," Sean Kelso, the Flames' director of communications and media relations, tweeted, using Calgary's airport code. "Having @Nenshi as mayor is worse than @realDonaldTrump being president. #arrogant #bracefordisaster #outoftouch."

Mr. Kelso deleted the comment, but not before it was captured and blazed through Twitter. Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC), which controls the Flames, neither defended nor chastised Mr. Kelso. Instead, CSEC said staff are entitled to their personal opinions, but comments should not be "misinterpreted" as reflecting the organization's position.

Negotiations over the financial burden each side would take on for a new arena to replace the Saddledome crumbled in September when Ken King, CSEC's top executive, declared negotiations dead. The two sides then sparred publicly, accusing each other of presenting misleading statements about their own proposals.

That the heated dispute between the Calgary Flames' ownership group and Mr. Nenshi escalated before the official election results were tallied underscores how difficult it will be for the two sides to find common ground should the club return to the bargaining table. While many Calgarians are pleased Mr. Nenshi took a hard line in negotiations surrounding the financing of a new arena in Victoria Park, they do want to see some sort of resolution.

Mr. Nenshi is showing no sign of backing down. On Tuesday, he said a new arena, if done right, could benefit the city and council is open to going back to the bargaining table. But he said the team gets the next move.

"I will say it's not me with whom they have they have to make a détente – it's with the citizens of Calgary," the 45-year-old mayor said in an interview.

"I have never seen citizens be so angry at a team that they love."

Mr. King in September publicly declared negotiations between his organization and the city dead. Mr. Nenshi, throughout the campaign, maintained Calgary was willing to negotiate further and tweak its own proposal.

"Nothing has changed for us," Mr. King said in a text message on Tuesday.

Mr. Kelso did not return an e-mail seeking comment. He was not the only CSEC employee to openly challenge the mayor. Gordon Norrie, president of the Calgary Stampeders, which is also owned by CSEC, publicly disparaged the mayor. On social media, Mr. Norrie encouraged people to vote for Mr. Smith.

"Desperate & arrogant! What an insult to YYC!" Mr. Norris tweeted Oct. 9 about a news story where Mr. Nenshi argued "racists or haters" were rallying behind his political opponents.

The two sides do not even agree on how much a new facility will cost, let alone how to split the bill. The city estimated the project will cost $555-million while CSEC reckons it can be done for $500-million.

David Finch, a sports marketing specialist at Mount Royal University's Bissett School of Business, believes the animosity will slowly melt away. Mr. Finch said the warring camps may need an unofficial moderator they both respect to coax them back to the table.

"These are all experienced business people," Mr. Finch, who has researched sport marketing analytics with CSEC, said. "If their objective is to actually get a deal done, then they [must] get past the emotion."

The Flames, however, aren't even Mr. Nenshi's biggest headache. The mayor and council face a massive financial hole caused by a high vacancy rate in Calgary's downtown office towers. Companies have gone out of business and jobs have been slashed as oil prices have remained low.

Historically, taxes from energy head offices on the south side of the Bow River have accounted for about 12.5 per cent of the total city revenue, Mr. Nenshi said. But when office vacancy rates went from zero to 30 per cent over the span of about 18 months, "the assessments dropped like a stone in the downtown," Mr. Nenshi said in the final days of the campaign.

"This has the potential of creating a very serious structural problem for us that can only be fixed through really big increases of the taxes of people outside of the downtown core – and nobody wants that," he said on Tuesday.

A stopgap measure will be the one-year extension of a program that shields businesses outside of the downtown from dramatic tax hikes.