A gladiator games announcement, Plovdiv Archaeological MuseumA gladiator games announcement, Plovdiv Archaeological Museum

It is possible that the Philippopolis stadium doubled as a gladiator arena. This gory sport was hugely popular in the city and there is plenty of evidence for that. A stone "poster" advertising gladiator games was discovered in Plovdiv, and so were a lost bronze token used as a gladiator games ticket; a comic-style relief with a fight between light and heavy-armored gladiators; several tombstones of gladiators some of who died in the arena.

Some researchers think that the gladiator games were held in the nearby theatre instead.

Whatever events gathered the people of Philippopolis at the stadium, they were eagerly anticipated.

It is easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of the  nervousness of the 30,000 visitors, making their way to the specifically inscribed sections of the rows, one for each phyle (city commune). Wealthy merchants and land-owners, who had arrived from their villas outside Philippopolis, were sitting stately on marvelous seats decorated with carvings of lion's paws. When the emperor was present, as Caracalla and Elagabalus were, he and his entourage would have the best places – the lodge above the arched passageway, in the middle of the sphendone (the semicircular end of the stadium).